“A data whistleblower,” Stirrup explained, “is basically an individual who raises issues, sometimes subversively. I see a data whistleblower as a go to person to whom employees can raise issues around data quality. It’s basically a role, which denotes someone whom anyone can go to, in order to express a confidential concern about the quality of a piece of data. There could be more than one whistleblower. For example, you could have one for each department.”
In my experience, many of the best data stewards got their start as data whistleblowers.
Data stewards are like an organization’s Data MacGyvers who will do whatever it takes (for some reason, duct tape is almost always involved) to investigate incidents of poor data quality, which often requires zig-zagging up, down, and across the organizational hierarchy while all along the way they’re communicating the well-constructed, but flexible, principles and policies that essentially comprise the jigsaw puzzle pieces of the organization’s pervasive and perpetual data governance program.
“Data is a corporate asset that belongs to everybody,” Stirrup concluded, “so everyone can help to look after it without risking their own comfort in the workplace; yes, data quality can be that contentious! The idea of a data whistleblower is to try and find a way through it.”
Who are the Unsung Heroes of Your Data?
Does your organization have any data whistleblowers or other types of data heroes whose tireless efforts to support the quality and governance of your data asset all too often goes unheralded?
Celebrate your Unsung Heroes of Data on International Data Stewards Day — October 11, 2012.
Read this related Jim Harris article:
The Collaborative Culture of Data Governance