A data maturity model is your new best friend

Baggage Handler by Alexander Else used under CC-BY-2.0 https://flic.kr/p/Q3S3Q

We all carry baggage from our work experiences.

I, for example, haven’t forgiven Microsoft for Windows NT*.

I get really, genuinely, ridiculously excited around election time.

And I have a visceral reaction against anyone who says

“I saw this presentation from X council. They were using Y technology and getting amazing results. If only we had Y technology we could do the same as them.”

Or even

“So I want to buy Y technology”.

Because I know (and so do you) that it isn’t the technology that enabled X council to get amazing results. It was the will, the culture, the focus.

So, at least when I was in a position where people had to talk to me about technology, I tended to give people a bit of push-back. Which was not always well received (for some reason repeating “I don’t care what you want” to your colleagues is sometimes seen as “disruptive” and “unhelpful”). It’s hard to have a constructive conversation when one of you is essentially saying

“This box will solve my pressing and important problems”

and the other is saying

“Your problems are more fundamental and have nothing to do with boxes”.

It turns out, that what I was looking for was a data maturity model.

I know, who knew?

Last year I had the opportunity to be involved in a project looking at data maturity in charities and social enterprises (in England and Wales). The final report of this project (Data Evolution) is available to download and read at your leisure. We also put together a Data Maturity Model. I’ve written a bit about data maturity before. Broadly, organisations can move from taking decisions based on professional expertise or gut feel to reviewing what happened in the past to building models of the future to predict the impact of their decisions.

A data maturity model breaks this broad sweep into much more granular chunks so you can see where you are in terms of leadership, technology, skills and so on. And you can see where you might get to, and what you might need to do to get from here to there.

Now I agree that a data maturity model is an unexciting sounding thing but it will, I submit, become a vital tool in your organisation.

Next time someone says

“I saw this presentation from X council. They were using Y technology and getting amazing results. So I want to buy Y technology.”

You can open up the Wise Council report (or our report). And ask them where on the data maturity spectrum X council is. And where your council is (let’s call you council Z, I kinda wish I’d never started this X-Y thing).

So council X did amazing things with technology Y. Council Z can start working to build the will, the skills and the culture so that they too can achieve the amazing things council X achieved.

With, or without, Y technology.**

*There is a growing body of evidence that Microsoft is in fact doing really good stuff in a much more open and engaged way. But how long would Darth Vader have to help you across the road before you got over the whole Death Star thing?

**Or tab A into Slot B. Hello to Jason Isaacs.