Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Blog has moved!

As of June, 2010, I've moved!

Thank you all for your support, comments, collaboration and encouragement. I hope to see you on the new site!


Jill Wanless

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Don't! Lie to me.

Lie to Me is one of the few shows on TV I actually watch. I LOVE it! It tells the story of Dr. Cal Lightman (played by another favorite: Tim Roth) and his team who use applied psychology to read facial and body language clues to expose the truth and lies in criminal investigations. The show is so popular that in November of last year it was renewed for another 9 episodes the first of which is scheduled to play on June 7th. I can't wait!

What does this have to do with Data Quality? Nothing specifically, but it has everything to do with working with others to achieve common outcomes.

If you have been following my blog or tweets, or have read some of the comments I have posted on the blogs of others, you may have noticed that I sometimes make reference to behaviors I have observed that don't enable trusting, collaborative partnerships; in fact they do quite the opposite! And these behaviors, displayed through facial and body language and, although quite subtle, can be very detrimental to the successful outcome of any project or program.

So why am I writing about this? I read body language. Steady. All the time. In every single encounter and meeting. I know pretty much what you're thinking, who you like or dislike, what pushes your buttons, and when you are lying (
OK, that's pretty harsh, how about 'when you are not telling the truth'). Yes, those times when you verbally agree to something while shaking your head in a back and forth manner tell me that actually you DON'T agree at all, and if you do it with your arms folded across your chest or without eye contact it also tells me that you STRONGLY disagree.

And when you ask for my feedback but focus your eyes elsewhere it tells me that actually, you have no intention of listening to my feedback and in fact, you are probably thinking about what you need to pick up at the grocery store on the way home :p

These types of behaviors do not show trust. They do not suggest partnership, 'we are in this together' or 'I care about your opinion or insight'. They tell me that some form of approach, unilateral decision or direction decision has been made and that regardless of what my, or the insights of others may provide, it will not be taken into consideration.

This is an issue. If you want your project, program, event or activity to be successful, you need to be aware of the motivations and feelings of others, and especially if you are working together as a team.
Team: –noun - a number of persons associated in some joint action..

So if you have a common goal, and you want to achieve a successful outcome, you need to work together as a team. And in order to work together as a team, you need to trust each other. And in order to establish trust, you need to be honest. Just tell the truth. If you are making a unilateral decision you might have a perfectly good reason for doing so. Explain the reason. Be open about it. Say: "I need to do X because of Y", or "I appreciate your feedback but cannot act upon because of this reason".

You will be surprised at what will happen. The team will appreciate the honesty. They will, in turn, be more open and engaging. You will establish credibility. You will gain supporters. You will have increased chances for a successful outcome. And guess what, your body and facial language will look more like someone who is relaxed, trusting, open and engaging: direct eye contact, informal stature, relaxed arms. You get the picture.

So why do I love the show Lie to Me so much? It takes the reading of body language to the next level. It shows examples of minute facial expressions and body movements that you might not have noticed before and provides some real life examples as to what they probably mean. And I'm a good student! So watch out! I know what you're thinking. Don't lie to me!

"If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything"
~Mark Twain~

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Attributes of a Data Rock Star

Earlier this week, Jill Dyché (@JillDyche), successful author, blogger, BI, MDM and Data Governance consultant and all around information guru, created a flurry of creactivity (I just made that word up – it’s a combination of the words creative and activity), when she tweeted a simple response that suggested a couple of data rock star types, in response to an excellent on-line article Are You a Data Rock Star? by Elizabeth Glagowski.

Elizabeth’s article has some excellent descriptions and examples of the attributes of what makes a great data rock star and Jill’s vigorous (and often humorous) take on business and IT alignment always identifies the rock star behaviors of being able to communicate the linkage between a company's information and its business value.

The results of the flurried creactivity, was Jean-Michel Franco (@jmichel_franco) coming up with a name that was quickly adopted;The Rolling Forecasts”, and Jim Harris (@ocdqblog), in his latest Obsessive Compulsive Data Quality blog post, coined the brilliantly perfect and perfectly brilliant lyrics to the band’s first song: “You can’t always get the data you want”.

So what I decided to do here was attempt to compile all these rock start attributes and behaviors in a simple format, so that they can be easily re-used and referred to. I plan on adding these to our internal wiki and identifying them as behaviors of successful data stewards. I a) hope they get read and b) hope that they get people thinking, behaving, changing…

· Excellent communicator of business and IT concepts using common language

· Ability to link information to business value

· Effective at communicating concepts and new ideas at early stages in order to reduce change management efforts

· Has excellent self awareness and understands the link between trust and partnership

· Is able to express thoughts and opinions in various ways in order to be able to provide feedback when others may not be interested in hearing it

· And seeks out and is receptive to feedback and continuously provides the opportunity for others to provide it

· Actually listens to the feedback and changes behavior/process/approach for continuous improvement (don’t get me started on people who ask for feedback but couldn’t give a rat’s a**..)

· Understands the link between clarifying expectations and how that will lead to success

· Ability to know how to engage and enthuse others – must understand the body language, communication preferences, motivations and needs of others

· Must be able to spot opportunities and take advantage of them – and especially do it in a way that others are unaware of it

· Must be comfortable pushing the boundaries in order to change things and do so in a way that others are unaware the boundary is being pushed

· Must be comfortable exerting authority and using it appropriately – all the while smiling and engaging others

· Is able to identify key success measures from both business and IT perspective and communicate effectively – at the beginning to confirm what is expected and throughout to continue to re-iterate value

· Is well liked and respected – this will ensure access to resources, tools, other stakeholders, hidden information (you KNOW that happens), and will help pave the way through political and cultural roadblocks

· Be able to articulate solutions as practical and logical and tie them directly to group/organizational goals

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Interview with Data Quality Pro

Dylan Jones, founder of the hugely successful Data Quality site: Data Quality Pro, has graciously interviewed me on my approach to achieving some data quality success without the benefit of a business sponsor. Read the full interview here: Interview with Jill Wanless

It was a great experience as it really got me thinking about what it was that really helped our team achieve what we were able to. Dylan does a great job of summarizing the key points and I'd also like to add that achieving data quality success is not a one man job. It requires a team of dedicated and like minded individuals with a good mix of technical savvy, schmoozy sales skills and some serious creativity genes. What I'd really LOVE to do is get a picture up of all of them so you could meet them and see why they are so special. Yeah right..naturally whenever I mention even the slightest suggestion of showcasing their specialness they quickly hide the look of horror on their faces and change the subject. I'm still working on that ;)

So thank you Dylan for being such a supportive champion in my attempts to share our story, and thanks to the best team anyone could ever have!

There I go, getting all Verklempt again..

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Data Governance From The Ground Up?

Not really but we can’t sit around forever waiting for the governing roles and responsibilities to be finalized so…

Let me back up a bit. I was the manager of a Data Quality Team. We used creative (aka guerilla) tactics to raise awareness, get buy in, and improve the quality of our customer information. 3 years later I am now a Senior Advisor on the business side, participating in the development of formalized Data Governance. How awesome is that? So what do I mean when I say: “Data Governance from the ground up”? Well due to the fact that Data Governance means a profound change in how we manage our data for both people and processes, lots of discussions and consultations are taking place at the executive level to understand the impacts and begin the process. So in the meantime, a few business stakeholders (yes THEY did it..not me!) have initiated the development of a working group, the goal of which is identify and understand some of the priority data issues that require resolution in order be somewhat organized and prepared for the time when a formal council is established.

The strategy will be to focus on data that is required to support upcoming business objectives, and work together to develop recommendations (and supporting documentation), so that when the formalization occurs, the group is well prepared to begin obtaining approval for and implementing the recommendations. The approach will be to work iteratively starting with the highest priority and pain points, and communicate regularly on the results and successes. The iterative approach will allow the participants and processes to be adjusted and fine tuned as necessary, and will increase the likelihood of buy-in and success.

What happened in Meeting 1?

  • We identified potential stakeholders and agreed that others will be identified as we move forward.
  • We agreed that the scope of the data that we need to focus on will be the basic Company and Contact data: name, address, phone, etc..
  • We agreed upon the initial approach: identify and define company and contact lifecycles, identify and define companies and contacts, identify and define any known risks and issues with companies and contacts.
  • And oh yeah, they made me the chair so I get to facilitate, encourage discussion and communicate results...must be my big mouth :)
I wanted to share this for a couple of reasons: first, it’s another step up in the Data Quality journey and it will be interesting and hopefully beneficial to others to share the ride, and second, I’m hoping if we get stuck on something I’ll write about it and obtain the feedback and opinions of other subject matter experts. So if you have any questions, comments or feedback, it would be most appreciated.


Friday, March 26, 2010

One small step for IT, one giant step for Data Quality.

I had a vision. My vision was to get buy-in from IT resources to start data management activities at the start of every IT project. Tough thing to achieve when performance is strictly related to delivery, not quality. I could speak [rant..whatever they wanted to call it :P] to them about benefits until I was blue in the face, but until I could describe what the benefits were in terms of project delivery risk management, they quickly went back to managing projects to the way they are used to so they could quickly start on the next one.

I knew that to really get them to listen I needed to put it in their perspective. What are the project risks they encounter every day? What goals are they trying to achieve and how did this tie into the satisfaction of their clients?

Here is what I know:

  • They are busy all the time
  • They have a lot of projects to deliver and limited resources - so no time to even think about new processes
  • They have some satisfied and some not-so satisfied clients
  • They are measured on project delivery (dates) not project quality

So how did I get their attention and show them that pro-active data management activities could help them achieve some of their goals?

I made a diagram. Everyone loves a diagram and no one has time to read text anymore. Plus, I made the diagram in such a way that it has a look similar to a Gantt chart. The goal of the diagram was to show that by not integrating data management activities into their project processes they were actually increasing the data related after project churn: Change requests, data clean-up, data reconciliation etc. These post project activities also used more not less resources (including business resources), which in turn cost money and time and led to less than satisfied clients.

When put in that perspective, most of them nodded their heads in agreement and even provided their own examples of what that after project churn looked like. I’d like to say that after a few of these presentations the corporation saw the light and made a broad announcement that from this day forward Data Quality is a top priority! I’m kidding here…! What did happen though is that the requests to provide Data Quality direction in pre-project analysis increased significantly thereafter. One small step for IT, one giant step for DQ :)

Here is the diagram. Click on it to see a larger view.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm not dead yet!

No, I was not unwell, just laying low for a bit and trying to get my bearings. I am part of a new team and just wanted to make sure I wasn’t rocking any boats with my social participation. It turned out to be a good move. The organization I work for (including my new boss), just finished drafting up some proposed guidelines for employee’s use of social media. I thought I’d just sit tight and wait until they came out so I could have a look and make sure I wasn’t breaking any corporate policies. As it happens I’m good to go, my new boss is cool with whatever I do as long as:

1/ I don’t get him fired

2/ I don’t get his boss fired

I like his nice broad guidelines, I should be able to follow them easy peasy. I suggested to him they should be our corporate policy for employee’s use of social media. Nice and short and ‘to the point’! Alas, some people have a need for more complete and specific information … details schmetails....

We still have an MDM initiative underway and Data Governance will play a big part of the solution. What is happening right now is a lot of process stuff to get a project of this size approved and organized; funding, governance, approvals, stakeholder participation, budgeting etc.. Things should start to ramp up in the next month or so and I will be sure to post some stories on what the goals, challenges, successes and fun 2010 brings!

Thanks Goodness! I felt like I was missing all the fun!

And yes, in addition to being a Star Trek fan I am also a fan of Monty Python! Brilliance is Brilliance…say no more…say no more..