#48 Overcoming Obstinate Organizational Obstacles in Data Mesh – Interview w/ Scott Hawkins

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Transcript for this episode (link) provided by Starburst. See their Data Mesh Summit recordings here and their great data mesh resource center here

In this episode, Scott interviewed Scott Hawkins, Principal Data Architect at ITV.

Scott views data mesh as a mechanism for change. Your company culture and your understanding of it are crucial to establishing data mesh well, driving that buy-in. Ask yourself: what challenges does data mesh actually address and hopefully solve, how will it impact the business not the tech, and what does it change. Your organization might not be ready for data mesh. Or a specific domain might not be ready. And that’s okay!

As ITV moved forward, they found a “good enough” solution via a global ID. It’s not perfect, there might be some overlap – such as one person might have a different global ID for their online subscription versus their broadcast subscription – but it is far better than what they were doing. And it allows for interoperability/joins across the data. This is a big improvement – don’t let perfect be the enemy of good or done.

One thing working for ITV is deploying a “team-in-a-box” to help domains move forward – similar to an internal consulting team. Each situation is different so each box they are given is different. The team-in-a-box concept also means it is somewhat easier to build common best practices internally. Coming to the table with defaults has really helped ITV.

Per Scott, there are 3 good ways to drive buy-in for the domain teams:

  1. At the senior level – so it trickles down as the management for the team is bought in.
  2. Via a strong carrot – solve a problem for them as a kind of quid quo pro / mutually beneficial solution. Trying to solve an unrelated problem will drive lower buy-in.
  3. Work on realigning the team KPIs/OKRs with the senior leaders to actually realign incentives.

Continuing on the driving buy-in, Scott recommends working with the domain managers to generate a viable/valuable carrot for the entire team. Explain to those leaders why it matters, work with the leaders to revamp the KPIs if the KPIs are getting in the way of delivering a good data product. This is why exec-level buy-in is so crucial – it is pretty hard to start modifying team KPIs/OKRs without it! Talking to teams to understand who they (the individual and the group) operate is crucial to developing the right path for them.

Scott also talked about making failure an option. You can try to work with a domain and if it isn’t working, it’s okay to move on. You don’t need to get everyone onboard on day one or sharing their data on day one. If you design incentives well, people will want to participate eventually. Until then, it’s okay to walk away from that team.

Scott Hawkins’ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scott-hawkins-8934393/

Data Mesh Radio is hosted by Scott Hirleman. If you want to connect with Scott, reach out to him at community at datameshlearning.com or on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scotthirleman/

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All music used this episode created by Lesfm (intro includes slight edits by Scott Hirleman): https://pixabay.com/users/lesfm-22579021/

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