Operating Model

by Laura Brown

When I first started I was warned “every day is different” and this lived up to be very true. Data Ventures is still in its early stages of the game and so everything is always changing.

Now, I’m no stranger to change and needing to be adaptable, I started my fresh out-of-school-small-town-&-farming-life by diving head first into a gap year over in the U.K. and spending two months bunny hopping around Europe. I then re-uplifted myself by moving to Christchurch where the landscape is always changing (literally) and I studied, please refrain from groaning in disgust, Maths & Stats.

I’m now based in here in Wellington in a cross-agency graduate programme in which I’ll spend eight months in three different agencies starting with Stats NZ, and in a months time I’ll be moving to DIA. I’ve had my fair share of adapt-or-be-left-behind moments but working with Data Ventures is something else entirely. Although I needed resiliency, I barely ever had to worry about work security, or in this case, venture security.

In the world of start-ups the landscape is forever growing which means markets open up just as quickly as they close. This means prioritisation of ventures changes with it as it depends on the gaps in these markets spaces. It also depends external partners and their interest in our ventures and whether ventures are necessary right now or whether it might be more viable in a years’ time. And so the focus changes as the gaps come and go and hence every day is in fact quite different.

So what are the things that ground Data Ventures and keep us stable? To get the ball rolling, Drew talks to people left, right and centre about Data Ventures to not only inform people about what we do but also to bring in partners and our strategy to bring ventures to market.

To keep the ball rolling smoothly, we use tools such as Monday, Slack, Medium and Twitter. Monday helps us stay organised and top of the ventures even when multiple are being worked on at once. Slack is used to keep in contact with one another, as we are often all over the place, and to share our work and discuss potential partners. As you probably know, we use Medium and Twitter to keep everyone up to date with what we’re currently working on, how we’re doing it and what we’re looking to do in the future. They’re also used to stimulate conversations with the public and generate interest in what we’re doing.

A venture manager will typically start the week off with a stand-up, used to update the core team with what they plan to work on in the week ahead and mention any potential roadblocks they expect to encounter and where they may need help. The ongoing week is then largely spent in strategic stakeholder meetings, such as with the advisory board, potential partners, customers (to ensure the topic is relevant) and service providers surrounding branding and public relations. Venture Managers also allocate time to keeping up to date with the world, the technologies it’s using and current business models as well as keeping on top of documentation for their respective ventures.

For example, Rob’s venture is currently running a pilot which includes a build, measure and learn feedback loop. This entails talking to customers and asking them what’s working and what isn’t for the pilot, then building in improvements accordingly and then taking the new version back to the customers to check the successfulness. Rinse and repeat. Rob also concerns himself with the data being provided by the pilot, and insights on the feedback loop. He then goes back to the customers about how they might improve the way they provide their data.

To manage updates and get our topics in and explored, the core team meets every Thursday. Theyse meetings are also necessary to discuss this progress of the ventures, M.O.U’s, score lean canvases, and to understand what needs to be done for each venture. Furthermore, once a month both the advisory board and governance board meets separately. The advisory meets to discuss Data Ventures as a whole whereas the governance board meets to set strategic direction, and make any decisions based on the advantages and pitfalls presented to them from the day to day of Data Ventures.

Two weeks ago, the Venture Managers presented their main venture for the Go/No-go to the rest of the core team, and representatives for Stats NZ, our public relations and an independent consultant. This was to help refine presentations for our working with Data Ventures event we held last week and to help our managers to decide whether to continue with these ventures by providing feedback. But we’ll tell you more about this in another blog coming soon!

So this is hint of the day in a life of Data Ventures and how we do things. We’re always keen to hear what others are doing or even feedback on what we’re doing that could be done better.

Check back here or follow our twitter feed (@dataventuresnz) to keep updated.

By starring us on GitHub (dataventuresnz), you can always see what we’re releasing.

And as always, please get in touch if you have any comments or questions, at dataventures@stats.govt.nz.

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