(ôrēənˈtiriNG/) noun—a competitive sport in which participants find their way to various checkpoints with the aid of a map and compass, the winner being the one that’s the most accurate and with the lowest elapsed time.
I’ve been a Boy Scout leader for many years. It’s one of the things I really love outside of family and friends. Orienteering is consistently a favorite activity for most of the boys. In the beginning, they are really incompetent and for good reasons. Orienteering involves things you don’t typically do, new tools and techniques to learn, PLUS you have to view the world a little differently. Over time, some boys get better and some boys do all they can to avoid it.
I’ve been involved in the world of data and all its flavors for a long time. When we first launched The Data Warehousing Institute in the mid-90’s, our most requested research was titled “The Top Ten Mistakes to Avoid in Data Warehousing.” The U.S. business media, who often didn’t know what the term data warehousing even meant, ran articles about those early multi-million dollar mistakes. It turns out that the world of data isn’t much different than life in general; the best teachers are often failure and, unfortunately, some of the best lessons learned are learned the hard way.
Because our world is obviously a lot more technical now, with new tools and technologies popping up every day, it makes even more sense to learn from others and avoid the obstacles that could lie in your path to data analytics nirvana.
The purpose of this article is not to give you a list of mistakes to avoid; those documents are available if you want to read them and from many good sources. The purpose is to get you orienteering – finding your way, along important checkpoints, with a good map and a compass (or GPS if you prefer).
The second purpose for the article regards being trustworthy (the first on the list of the 12 points of the Scout Law). In orienteering, the young scouts learn early on that you cannot bluff your way into finding those checkpoints. Often one boy is reading a map and another boy is looking for coordinates on the compass while others look around the topography looking for key points. It is a joint effort, which is easy for us to relate to because we all work in teams or business units or divisions or companies, but it requires trustworthiness and being quick to throw up your hand and say “I’m not sure,” or “we need to back up to our last checkpoint and try again,” or “can someone else take a look at this?”
As you and your colleagues move forward with all kinds of initiatives to transform data into meaningful business intelligence, you need that map, compass and a great team to help. So what does that all mean?
“To succeed, a data analytics manager needs to build a team in which every individual performs to his or her highest potential. This requires an open, caring environment where individuals aren’t afraid to ask “dumb” questions, suggest ideas without being criticized, and take risks without fear of losing their jobs.
To create high performance teams, data analytics managers need to practice love. They need to:
Yup, show your team some love!
Some basic ideas, but some that are often forgotten along the busyness of the way. I welcome your comments.
Steven Crofts is a Director at CyberGroup, Inc., in Dallas, TX. He was owner and CEO of The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) and has been a part of the data community for over 30 years.