Data Quality, Collaboration and Baseball

June 17, 2011
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Disclaimer: After a long day with a strategic partner discussing the finer points of data management and data quality, my mind took some mysterious, but enlightening, paths while catching a baseball game in AT&T Park in San Fransisco.   

Disclaimer: After a long day with a strategic partner discussing the finer points of data management and data quality, my mind took some mysterious, but enlightening, paths while catching a baseball game in AT&T Park in San Fransisco.   

Collaboration on Data Quality efforts between the business and IT is always tenuous.  Yet, most acknowledge that it is the ability to work well together that will help an organization overcome data quality challenges quickly and effectively.  I realized this most clearly while watching a baseball game in San Fransisco.  So, what does this have to do with baseball, you might ask? 

I love going to baseball games.  It doesn’t matter what stadium, and it doesn’t matter if my home team is playing.  I just enjoy sitting in the stadium, elbows on knees, ready to cheer, jump, and take in what is happening in the stands, field and dug-out.  Each stadium has a different atmosphere and personality.  I feel this most acutely while watching games at other stadiums around the country. I realized, while sitting in AT&T Park last week, that the relationship between fans, their home team, and the visiting team is not too different from the dynamics between the business, IT and the quality of data. 

After many years of living in the Boston area, I’ve taken in my share of Redsox games at Fenway.  The vibe is one of strong, passionate loyalty to our beloved team.  Any visiting team has to deal with our blind support that is best represented by our pet name for the left field wall, the Green Monster.  Love us or hate us, we love our team and we (yes, we fans think of ourselves as on the team) take on visitors at home aggressivly, purging visiting teams like your would poor data quality.

Sitting in Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the relationship between Cardinal fans and players is more relaxed, and feels like a summer party.  Music, singing and sitting back with your friends and other fans are par for the course.  This welcoming, friendly experience is quite the puzzlement to us Red Sox fans.  If Busch Stadium was likened to your organization, is poor data quality ( the visiting team ) asked to join in on the party?  Is it acknowledged and accepted as part of the experience and doing business? 

Now, back to AT&T park.  Strangest of all to the Red Sox fan is the relationship between Giants fans and their team.  It is love-hate all the way.  Fans cheer on their team, and in a moment’s notice turn on them after three innings of bad pitches and a right field pop fly, uncalled by three players, landing in the center.  Then, back to cheering, chalking up mishaps to being in the National League.  So, on one hand you have team and fan in lock step, and on the other the fan can scold ferociously.  The visiting team is along for the ride like poor data quality moving through your systems.  Sometimes acknowledged, sometimes not.  Does that feel like the relationship you have in your organization between the IT and business when you need to solve data quality challenges?  Data quality is being addressed in fits and starts?

Figuring out your IT-Business relationship is a first step to creating a collaborative environment for addressing your data quality challenges.  Dynamics in every organization are different, but it does not have to inhibit your ability to create high quality data.  Red Sox, Cardinals and Giants have all won the World Series.  Each stadium has leveraged its own personalities to accomplish a goal.  Model your business on baseball.  Recognize your organization’s personality.  Put the strengths and abilities to work, collaborating to create data that feeds your business.