Early one morning some time ago, I was walking through the airport in San Francisco and I happened to recognize the guy walking towards me as Mike Rowe, host of The Discovery Channel’s popular DIRTY JOBS series.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the program, DIRTY JOBS profiles the unsung American laborers who make their living in the most unthinkable, dangerous, or often disgusting, yet vital, ways – with Mike usually getting extremely dirty in the course of performing this week’s selected job.
Well, that chance encounter got me thinking why it’s so easy for data quality people like me to relate to the jobs shown on that show. Yes, sometimes, cleansing data is like scraping ostrich goo out of a tub or shoveling manure.
Yet, I also asked myself why it would have been so difficult for me to explain to Mike that the type of cleansing I perform and the “dirt” that I’m cleaning is the cyber equivalent of what he’s doing? Could it be that we data quality people just have a problem with visibility in our profession and its often hard for us to explain exactly what we do and get people (particularly management) to understand the true, vital value of our dirty jobs?
I think we need to all start thinking more about visibility – getting more like Mike Rowe.
So, as a starting point, I’m offering up the following list:
- Let’s find better ways to keep score – you can’t tell if you’re winning the game unless you’ve got a way to keep score – data quality measurement is key.
- Once you have the score, make sure that management knows it and knows what it means. I know we all don’t have a weekly TV show but we all need to find a way to keep in front of management on a regular basis and show the dirt (and the value).
- Emphasize the good as much as the bad – as nothing turns management off more than someone who only brings bad news.
- Find a way to be more like Mike to show that, while it may be difficult, you are fully capable and willing to get the job done. That may be tough to accomplish if you happen to be up to your knees in slop, but you’ll get past that point and show why its so important to the business.
- Work at finding more ways to deliver value to your organization – don’t be shy. Be like Mike, show up everywhere and get your hands dirty and be loud about it.
Now I have to ask, what have you done today to improve the visibility and value of data quality in your organization?
P.S. Mike, I’m forever grateful that you weren’t doing a show on the restrooms at San Francisco Airport that morning!