Sunday, December 4, 2011

Data Governance and Wrapping Paper

Your unusual uncle has just turned 80, and told you that his single special wish is for ALL his presents to be wrapped in "baby yellow" wrapping paper with large orange triangles (go figure...).

You then start spreading the word. You tell cousin Jean "Yellow wrapping paper with triangles" (out goes "Baby" yellow, "orange" and "big" triangles). Cousin Jean tell auntie Gina "light color wrapping paper with some symmetric shapes" (out goes "Yellow" and "triangle")...

You can imagine where this is going.... By the time the presents are set on the birthday table - not a single present looks wrapped in anything that even resembles what your uncle wanted... 

What we have here is a classic case of a "broken telephone" (like the children's game, where they have to whisper a message across a line of kids).

This is obviously a severe failure in data governance. Did you question why the specific colors and shapes matter? No! Did everyone carefully comply with a set of minimum criteria specification? No (they were possibly not clearly  defined). Did anyone check that cousin James, all the way from across the Atlantic, understood that the yellow-light-faded-brown-tissue paper does NOT actually mean toilet paper ?!! Well, no (that is why your uncle's new golf bag is wrapped in toilet paper!).

Information governance is a social problem - it is not limited to business. Have you ever wondered why we spend YEARS teaching our children to build competence in communication patterns (language), but yet very little time (if at all), in nurturing a behavior of ensuring the awareness to the correct fitness of information and its adherence to quality requirements.

And people wonder why I call our times the age of information chaos...

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