How to Make your Data Discussion Meaningful

When you talk to business colleagues about data management, does it seem like you’re speaking another language? They begin to nod …but unconvincingly. Their eyes roll back … and glaze over. They begin desperately searching for an opportunity to close the conversation … and head back into safer, familiar waters.

We’ve all probably had a conversation with an IT specialist who uses technical speak to describe an issue or a problem and it leaves you thinking, “what the …?” If only they could raise the level of conversation from tech-speak to straight business talk that everyone can understand!

As data management professionals, we risk doing the same. We throw around terms like data governance, data architecture, metadata, reference data, golden records, and the list goes on. We see that all-too-familiar glazed eye look and wonder why they just don’t get it.

Raise the conversation to get your message across

How do we raise the conversation to a level that non-data management professionals understand? Our rank-and-file business people are the ones who handle data every day. The language needs to be their language, not ours. How do we help them in understanding why data management is important to their business outcomes?

Getting our message across in a way that makes sense to our clients is key to successful communication. Moreover, it is foundational to successful data management outcomes. That’s where above the line / below the line conversations come in. To put it another way, what is the language we can use to engage with our clients and colleagues (above the line) and which corresponds to our own internal team data management speak? (below the line). 

Create a common data language

Below is an example we created for a client to help them engage in meaningful conversations with their colleagues. Being clear within the internal data management team about the meaningful set of business phases that describe different data capabilities within your environment, goes a long way to getting your message across. Some phrases to think about are:

Use this technique to create a common language for your team to talk and engage with your clients or the rest of you organisation. Here’s how:

Include this as an artefact in your communication plan to assist with rolling out your data management cultural change initiative.

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We are an established data consultancy, working on some of Australia’s
biggest data management projects across seven capital cities.

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Tim Goswell Practice lead

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Megan Kelly General Manager

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