Extending the topic of my blog post Predictably Poor Data Quality to include metadata, Beth Breidenbach wrote the excellent blog post Predictably Poor MetaData Quality, where she explained how “similar human motivations come into play for metadata quality as with data quality.”
“Human behavior,” according to Beth, “is both the root cause and the solution. Technology doesn’t cause or solve the data quality challenge. Rather, it’s a tool that exacerbates or aids human behavior in either direction.”
I definitely agree with Beth. I have always found it puzzling when organizations try to resolve people issues by applying more technology or simply better technology.
Only people can resolve people issues.
I believe that a big part of the problem is the fact that the word “data” is prevalent in the names we have given industry disciplines and enterprise information initiatives.
Even the simplistic definition of metadata as “data about data” can make metadata management sound like a recursive reinforcement of the supremacy of data.
In the comments of my blog post What’s the Meta with your Data?, I coined the term Data Transcendentalism, which is a reference to the 19th century philosophical movement started by, among others, Ralph Waldo Emerson, whom I now paraphrase:
“So shall we come to look at the world of data with new eyes.
We shall find answers to the endless inquiries of business insight. What is a Shared Version of the Truth? What is the importance of high quality data? What is the purpose of data governance?
Only your people, and not data, business process, or technology, can answer these questions.
Build, therefore, your own data management best practices.
The faster you can avail your entire organization of the business understanding already present within your unique culture, but not yet shared across the enterprise, the sooner you will realize your organization’s great potential.
A corresponding reliance on the human side of business will transcend data, business process, and technology, and it will be your people who will lead the way.”
My point is that although people, business process, data, and of course, technology, are all important, by far the most important of all is—People.
Therefore, before you get too immersed in the intricate and low-level details of any of the many industry disciplines and enterprise information initiatives that start with data, I highly recommend that you first consider Data Transcendentalism.
Join the Data Transcendental Club
If you are a like-minded data professional who believes in a “people first” approach, then please “join” the Data Transcendental Club by posting a comment below.