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Kelle O'Neal

Thanks for joining our data conversation! This blog is an opportunity to share the real life challenges, opportunities and approaches to improving the quality and value of data in your organization. We will write about everything data related from translating "data" speak into "business" speak, to governance models, to the real differences among the myriad software tools available. But there's one catch: we all have to agree to toss out the fluff. That's right, no 30,000 foot, theoretical strategies that leave you wondering how to execute and actually improve performance. Visit regularly to learn from peers and partners on how they are managing and improving data, and we hope you'll also share your views and experiences.

About the author >

As Founder and Managing Partner of First San Francisco Partners, Kelle O’Neal manages specialist data governance and data management consulting services to complex organizations that deliver faster time to results. Kelle can be reached at kelle@firstsanfranciscopartners.com or through the First San Francisco Partners website.

Follow First San Francisco Partners on Twitter at @1stSanFrancsico.

Editor's Note: Find more articles and resources in Kelle's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

August 2011 Archives

We looked at The Law of the Few and The Stickiness Factor rules that author Malcolm Gladwell describes in his book, The Tipping Point. The final rule is The Power of Context. How can this concept help in the process to create awareness, get people on board and communicate the value of Data Governance?

Gladwell explores the fact that human beings are a lot more sensitive to their environment than they may seem. Behavior is more of a function of social context, rather than individual drive. For example, when people are in a group, responsibility for acting is diffused - they assume that someone else will make the call, or in the case where nobody is acting, the apparent problem isn't really a problem.  An example of this is when an individual is walking down an alley and witnesses an elderly lady being mugged they are more likely to try to retrieve the purse from the thug. When this occurs on a busy street in Manhattan, nobody acts.

The Power of Context relates that the way a person responds to something is less about the kind of person, and more about their environment. Data Governance professionals generally focus on individual ownership and accountability, rather than the environment in which Data Governance takes place. Could the goals of ownership and accountability be improved by thinking about them in terms of group dynamics and context?<

Consider how company structures/hierarchies, environments and groups impact people's behavior. Are there cultural norms in your organization that may be influencing people not to adhere to the governance policies and processes? This is common where sales staff is responsible for customer data. The "norm" is that everyone keeps their contact information in the eMail messaging system rather than in the Salesforce Automation system. Changing this "norm" may entail more than instituting a new policy. Recognizing that this group of people will not readily change as a fully compliant group will impact the way you set new policies and how they are put into place.

At other times, it helps to create a context that encourages people to better govern data. This can be done by aligning with another company change initiative, such as a "One Company" program or a shift to a customer-centric organization. Here is a ripe opportunity where people are ready and willing to change based on the larger context and initiative - one that is highly visible to the organization. Sneaking in some Data Governance activities along with another corporate change initiative may prove more impactful.

Gladwell also informs that an epidemic can just as easily be reversed or tipped by tinkering with the smallest changes in the immediate environment. Identifying how the context and the environment impacts the adoption of Data Governance is just as important as the goals and activities that encourage individual accountability and ownership.

Posted August 27, 2011 3:44 PM
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One of the biggest challenges in adopting and sustaining Data Governance is spreading ideas and creating action - creating the tipping point. The second rule author Malcolm Gladwell describes in the book, The Tipping Point, is The Stickiness Factor.

This rule relates that there are specific ways of making a contagious message memorable - making it stick. Typically, there are relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information that can make a big difference in how much of an impact it makes. "Sticky" messages are personal and practical, and they engage people such that they can figure out how to best fit it into their lives.

Incorporating this concept into your Data Governance program can occur in several ways. Your communication plan should be crafted (or revised) to make the messaging more engaging, impactful and relevant. Does the method grab people's attention? Does the message make sense to them? Is it written and communicated in a way that is relevant to the recipients? This is a good time to solicit help and guidance from the marketing team, who are experts in messaging, to help create "sticky" communications.

Don't make the mistake of assuming people can make the leap to understand the benefits of Data Governance. Rather, explain clearly why governance is important to different groups of stakeholders by making the message both personal and practical. When rolling out a new policy, process or standard, help people understand how it fits into their existing role and function. If people feel these are incremental changes and improvements, they are more likely to adopt them - as compared to significant changes.

If we look at the idea that a small change can have a big impact, apply this to those aspects of your program that don't have as much traction as you'd like. When thinking about the first project to tackle to get Data Governance off the ground, identify a small change that can make a difference and also deliver a lot of value. For instance, a new way of entering customer or product information could greatly reduce the number of duplicate records if it is more controlled and executed by fewer people.

Another approach to consider is how to make a single change that is pervasive across your organization. An example of this is to create a milestone in the Project Management Office process so that the Data Governance team is involved in approval processes to ensure that new projects abide by the standards and guiding principles of the governance program. Putting your efforts into a single pervasive change could have a much greater impact than several smaller process changes.

In an epidemic, the messenger matters because messengers are what make something spread. But the content and quality of the message matters too. We are overwhelmed by people clamoring for our attention. Your Data Governance message needs to break through the clutter. The Stickiness Factor rule establishes that there is a more effective, simple way to package information that can make it irresistible.

Posted August 16, 2011 9:30 AM
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In his book, The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell articulates how ideas and concepts are epidemics and can spread like viruses. He writes of 3 rules to better understand the spread of epidemics: The Law of the Few; The Stickiness Factor; and The Power of Context.
In this second in a series of blog posts, let's take a look at The Law of the Few as it relates to the adoption of Data Governance. This rule relates how a few exceptional people through social connections, energy, enthusiasm, personality and knowledge are responsible for spreading words and ideas. Gladwell explains that in order to spread words and ideas, all you need to do is to find these types of people--called Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.

Law of the Few image.jpg

are people with a special gift for bringing the world together. They are the kinds of people who seem to know everyone. Part of the reason they seem to know everyone is that they don't gravitate to only a single type of person; rather, they occupy many different worlds, subcultures and niches. These people legitimately consider both the mailroom clerk and the CEO friends. The idea is that the closer someone, an idea or a product is to a Connector, the more power and opportunity it has.
Mavens are energetic about collecting information and obsessively consume it. The term Maven comes from the Yiddish word meaning one who accumulates knowledge. And once mavens figure something out, they want to tell everyone about it because they think it's such a good idea and would be helpful to everyone. Mavens have the knowledge and the social skills to start word of mouth epidemics.
Salesmen have the power to persuade us of something we aren't convinced of because of their charismatic, charming, contagious, energetic and irresistible personalities. These are the people in your organization who seem to get everything they want - such as promotions and the best roles on projects. Salesmen get their projects approved even when they may not drive the most value to the company. Salesmen convince us to take action.
How can you tap into these types of people to support and bolster your Data Governance initiative? Here are some suggestions to apply The Law of the Few to help create and spread knowledge and information around the concepts and ideas of Data Governance:
  • When executing/evaluating stakeholder involvement seek out Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.
  • Create a communication plan that leverages these types of individuals and their skills to help spread the information about and value of data governance.
  • Seek Salesmen or Mavens to be the Executive Sponsor to help convince people they should actively participate in data governance.
  • Find a Maven or Connector to be the Data Governance Lead to better spread the word about the benefits of data governance.
  • Include Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen in the Working Group to increase awareness of data governance within your organization.
Who in your organization are the Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen?

Posted August 9, 2011 6:49 PM
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