By Stephen Putman, Senior Consultant
The Dreaded Stairs (part of The Fun Theory project)
I have long felt that humans do things for two reasons:
A) They're fun
B) They're lucrative
This applies to the field of Data Governance and Quality as it does everything else. One of the reasons data governance and quality initiatives are not more widely adopted and followed is that the work is not terribly fun - data owners must be identified, policies and processes must be adopted, and the entire process must be monitored and attended once it is in place. It's also not seen as lucrative in a direct sense - the act of cleansing the data in a transaction usually doesn't provide immediate financial reward, and while the implementation of governance and quality initiatives can affect the company's bottom line, the benefits are very difficult to quantify in a traditional sense.
Phil Simon has produced a terrific series for The Data Roundtable on incentive ideas for data quality programs, so I will not address these here - he says it much better than I can. I am concerned with "fun." The video above demonstrated an innovative idea to make a mundane but healthy activity (climbing stairs) into a joyful experience. What sort of innovative programs can be created to make managing high-quality data fun?
"Fun" is a difficult concept because it means something different to everyone. One way to find out what is "fun" to your employees is by conducting surveys or workshops to ask them directly. Another possibility could be to have a "company carnival" in your parking lot, and award employees who identify quality issues with raffle tickets or a "boss' dunk tank." The White House holds a yearly contest with government employees for the best quality improvement or cost-savings idea (this is more of an incentive, but some people also consider contests like this fun).
These are just a few ideas off the top of the head - do you have creative people who can come up with other ideas? If it is indeed true that fun makes unpleasant activities more palatable, this would be time well spent to reinforce data governance and quality in your organization.
photo by Robin Fensom via Flickr (Creative Commons license)
Stephen Putman has over 20 years experience supporting client/server and internet-based operations from small offices to major corporations. He has extensive experience in a variety of front-end development tools, as well as relational database design and administration, and is extremely effective in project management and leadership roles. He is the co-author of The Data Governance eBook, available at baseline-consulting.com/ebooks.