Unleashing the data quality ideavirus


In a previous post, I urged you to prevent the spread of the data zombie virus. However, not all viruses are bad. In fact, there are even viral outbreaks that can be good for your organization.

One of my favorite books is Unleashing the Ideavirus, where author Seth Godin explains how the most effective business ideas are the ones that spread. Godin uses the term ideavirus to describe an idea that spreads, and the term sneezers to describe the people who spread it.

When making the business case for it, data quality can be a hard sell. Which is why selling the success of a recently completed pilot project will make your business case more compelling. Therefore, carefully choose a pilot project that is almost guaranteed to be successful. For this, you need the following three things:

  1. Well-defined ROI – Returns on investment are tangible business impacts, such as mitigated risks, reduced costs or increased revenues. Alternatively, Daragh O Brien suggests using ROM (return on Maalox).
  2. Narrow scope – A pilot project that delivers ROI without too much time, effort and cost. While this isn’t an easy thing to find, don’t get thwarted by scope creep driven by the fear your ROI isn’t big enough.
  3. Sneeziness – A pilot project that is either inherently sneezable or one that has a great sneezer acting as your executive sponsor or project champion.

Searching for sneezers

In order for a successful pilot project to rally enterprisewide support for continuing data quality efforts, the most important thing you have to do is to find your sneezers. Searching does not involve forcing co-workers to inhale finely ground pepper, tickling their nostrils with feathers or hiding their allergy medication.

You are searching for sneezers who will do such an exhilarating job inebriating the successful completion of your pilot project that they will help cause the very idea of a sustained data quality program to go viral throughout your organization. Your sneezers will unleash the data quality ideavirus.

It isn’t easy being sneezy

Sneezers are an organization’s innovators and disruptive agents, acting as the catalysts for crucial changes in a corporate culture. However, just like with literal sneezing, it can get really annoying if it occurs too frequently.

Always selecting the same executive sponsor or project champion (especially one who served you well in the recent past) can potentially be a mistake. Don’t turn your sneezer into the Patron Sneezer of Lost Causes, or your project may be sent to The Island of Misfit Toys (thus turning your sneezer into King Moonracer).

Your call to sneeze

Who will answer the call to sneeze in your organization? Who will help you unleash the data quality ideavirus?


About Author

Jim Harris

Blogger-in-Chief at Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality (OCDQ)

Jim Harris is a recognized data quality thought leader with 25 years of enterprise data management industry experience. Jim is an independent consultant, speaker, and freelance writer. Jim is the Blogger-in-Chief at Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality, an independent blog offering a vendor-neutral perspective on data quality and its related disciplines, including data governance, master data management, and business intelligence.

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