What Jimmy Buffett Could Teach Data Governance Leaders

November 20, 2008
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Back in the early 1970s, my brother Reese (who also writes in this space) was playing at Crazy Ophelia’s coffee house in Key West at the same time Jimmy Buffett was playing there. This was just before Buffett exploded to stardom.

I admit that I wasn’t always crazy about all of Buffett’s early stuff, although “Come Monday” (see & hear  it on YouTube here) went to my heart the first time I heard it. Oh, the aching in that tune!

Swaying

Back in the early 1970s, my brother Reese (who also writes in this space) was playing at Crazy Ophelia’s coffee house in Key West at the same time Jimmy Buffett was playing there. This was just before Buffett exploded to stardom.

 

I admit that I wasn’t always crazy about all of Buffett’s early stuff, although “Come Monday” (see & hear  it on YouTube here) went to my heart the first time I heard it. Oh, the aching in that tune!

 

Swaying to the song, I’d try to imaging what it would be like to be a traveler, to be states away from someone I loved. I couldn’t really imaging at that time what a life with lots of travel would be like, but I (and millions of others), could certainly connect with the longing, with a feeling that “come Monday, it’ll be all right. Come Monday, I’ll be holding you tight.”

 

Fast forward to the mid nineties. Reese has been playing and singing for decades, building an exciting entertainment career where sometimes he’s the main attraction, and sometimes he’s supporting chart-topping stars. And me, I’ve started working in the world of data and IT, and I’m dating Bruce Cone, the man who would become my husband and stepfather to my children.

 

Because Bruce came across a bit formal at work, it surprised many people (including me) to discover he was a ParrotHead. Bruce loved Jimmy Buffett music passionately. So when my career in Data Governance exploded in its own little way, and I found myself on the road a lot, it was Bruce I was thinking about when I hummed “Come Monday,” when I was aching for the end of a gig and the holding tight that meant ”it’s be all right.” 

 

And it was those many times that Bruce and I had listened together to “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” that helped me pay attention to one of the real benefits of travel: the chance to experience changed perspectives.

 

Bruce passed away suddenly three-plus years ago (something I’m just now able to talk about). And when I travel now, it’s with my daughter, son, friend Gail, or – more often – alone.

 

It’s those trips when I’m on my own that I’m most sensitive to changes in attitude. For instance, today I’m about to start on my way home from London, having spent some time here for the DM&IQ conference. I got to spend lots of quality time with peers here – time to share facts, opinions, and attitudes. It is so very useful to hear about different approaches to information management and data governance. To compare notes on attitudes toward decision making, power versus persuasion, encouragement versus enforcement, and consensus-based activities versus command-and-control protocols.

 

I’ve come to treasure these exchanges. In the past 8 months, I’ve been at events in London, Berlin, Toronto, Minneapolis, San Francisco, San Diego, Raleigh/Cary, Chicago, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Boston/Cambridge, and Las Vegas (plus visits to client sites). I’ve had the privilege of talking in depth, in person with practitioners from every continent except Antarctica.

 

And guess what? With every  single change in latitude or longitude, I’ve found my own attitudes being adjusted in some way. Mostly I’ve felt myself becoming more inclusive, more flexible.

 

Maybe at one time I thought in absolutes – that there was one “right way” to do something. But rigid attitudes don’t make sense anymore when you hear success stories from around the globe that highlight polar opposite approaches that all succeed in meeting similar goals. Instead, you start “collecting” those approaches, and you concentrate on mapping them to the cultural and environmental factors that will influence what approach will work, and when, and under what conditions, for what types of organizations.

 

So what’s the moral of this story? I’m not gonna tell anyone to start listening to Jimmy Buffett. After all, you either think “Cheeseburger in Paradise” is funny, or you don’t.

 

But if you’re feeling like your own thinking is a bit rigid these days, you might consider a temporary change in latitude. If a virtual escape is all you can manage, please dial into one of our Knowledge Exchanges to exchange notes with Data Governance practitioners from around the world.

 

And if real-life travel is an option, Key West is always nice this time of year.

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