The Marketing Director was truly at the end of his tether – however hard his team worked, the issues regarding data quality just kept coming back round – and around – and around.
This time someone had incorrectly merged records from two separate databases causing compliance issues. The phones had not stopped ringing with complaints when duplicate records were incorrectly merged. One record said, OK to Mail = “Yes” and the other said Do Not Mail = “Yes”. When merged, records with Do not Mail = “Yes” were not suppressed from mailings and – as you can imagine – the recipients were not happy.
After these kinds of mess-ups, you can imagine the interdepartmental jokes, where marketing staff changed the meaning of acronyms like MDM (Master Data Management), to “Make do and Mend”, and SCV (Single Customer View) to “Serially Corrupted View”.
The Marketing Director, now exasperated, picked up the phone to give the Database Manager yet another ear bashing and then – paused. If the ear-bashing approach wasn’t working; and sheer effort wasn’t working; perhaps there had to be a better way?
He said, “We need to talk about this and I think we need to sort this out jointly”. He heard a deep sigh of relief and felt that at last there was some rapport and engagement with the team.
Very often, we see a similar story play out. Individual functions that are just not interacting well, if at all; playing blame games and throwing problems over the wall. The result? Those problems just keep coming back to bite them. And eventually, as a last resort, they get to talking it all out, find that each of them had half the answer and finally get to resolution. The problems actually go away and this time, they don’t boomerang back.
What if we could accelerate this process? A senior manager in a US based technology business told us this story recently. She had an Agile development team that could never finish a project, they were becoming the butt of jokes around the business and, what was worse, good people who ended up placed in that team were leaving the company. The team had lots of training in Agile processes and in new technologies, the same as everyone else in the company; they were all exceptionally bright developers and engineers who had done very well on other projects; but in this team they could not get a result.
Eventually, the Scrum Master (the person who leads an Agile team) was changed and the new person realised that this was neither a skills nor a process issue; the team had an interaction gap, which needed to be bridged. Everyone had lots of good ideas but they were not making effective use of them to produce a satisfactory result. He had some ideas about this, and what to do, because he had experienced something similar in a previous organisation. That organisation had called in some outside help – so next thing he did was to get hold of the name and number of the person they had used, someone who specialised in improving team interaction. Within three weeks, the team was discovering its members’ strengths and weak spots and learning how to operate better as a unit. And within just a few months, it had turned around and finally delivered a quality product. It never looked back. After the dust had settled, the senior manager had two telling comments: people in that team described it as becoming “the best team we have ever worked in;” and she wished she had spotted the causes sooner and started to tackle the interaction gap before it became a big problem.
High quality data requires good processes and tools; and attention to the way that interaction takes place within, and between, teams who work together on that data. So what can you do to recognise the symptoms of interaction gaps and work to close them? You can discover during the 3Circle Partners Open Enrolment Workshop in London on May 7th & 8th, 2014. To find out more visit our website – learning to close interaction gaps will result in, quite simply, better interactions and better results.
This article was written by Martin Doyle of DQ Global, specialists in tools and processes for achieving data quality; and Patrick Ballin of 3Circle Partners, consultants who specialise in effective interaction and closing the interaction gap.