The Phases of Learning to Ride Your Data Bicycle  

The more efficient path to building a fully capable data team

Your dream of having a data driven culture is as easy as riding a bike….

Well… “easy” may slightly miss the mark.

Do you remember riding downhill with the wind in your face, your 7 year-old eyes watering like you just watched the opening to the movie UP? Then, all of a sudden your wheels lock up and you flip head first over the handlebars, shoes-flying-off, and land right on the rocky asphalt….

Perhaps you haven’t physically experienced this but I have seen plenty of data teams experience similar pain, regret, anger, and humiliation due to lack of progress with their current data strategy just as the speed was really starting to pick up. With scratches, some blood, and a whole lot of tears….metaphorically speaking, teams need to pick themselves back up and continue to move forward with their data journey. 

While this article started out a bit gloomy, like a lot of company’s data initiatives, let me share some hope with you using some fun metaphorical lessons around finding a faster and less painful path to building a fully capable data team. We will explore how an experienced data consulting partner can help you not only avoid “serious injury” when it comes to marturing your data capabilities but also help you achieve your goals in way less time.

Phases of Learning to Ride Your Data Bicycle:

The Goal

The goal for riding a bike is to eventually ride without any support systems as quickly and as safely as possible. In data terms, this means you have:

  • Bicycle: A small agile data team able to scale and support a growing data driven culture 
  • Roadmap: Your data journey mapped out showing where you are heading
  • Helmet: The equipment and technology you need to keep your team moving and safe from falling. 
  • Balance & Skills: The skills to keep the team moving fast, consistently, and safely without a chance of losing those skills when someone leaves. 

Step 1: Training wheels

I know, not the coolest way to start off this story. Yes, we all want to skip the learning phase and just start racing down the road with our friends. But remember, almost everyone learns to ride a bike with training wheels. Sure you will want to skip them to hopefully look cool to the neighborhood kids but that streamlined approach will not only be a lot costlier on the skin and psyche, but it will also elongate the time it takes you to reach your goal.

Let’s step away from how we get to our goal (riding a bike) for a second and just focus on the dream – actually riding a bike, feeling the wind in your hair, experiencing the joy of getting places in minutes not hours, and avoiding the constant falling, bumps and bruises as much as possible.

An experienced data partner can help you do just that!  A data partner will act as your training wheels, minimizing the amount of things you need to think about and help you focus. A good data partner will guide you along your data journey by providing the necessary structure, skills, templates, momentum and focus needed in order to learn while also meeting current job requirements and getting data deliverables out the door. So often we find teams trying to learn, deploy, hire and so much more while also trying to get their annual objectives accomplished. That is the equivalent of texting, chewing gum, and trying to ride your bike at the same time….you are just learning!  Your team will learn best by leveraging the best practices, provided by your data partner, and taking over the sprint work slowly rather than the all-at-once multitasking approach mentioned above. In this way you keep the lights on while also making large leaps on the data capabilities maturity curve.

And, yes you can still fall when using training wheels, but these falls are mostly due to not paying attention, i.e. not prioritizing your focus and thus running into or over things. Just make sure you are working closely and communicating with your data partner to avoid this one.

Want to skip the training wheels?

Hiring a single engineer may work or may just be like hiring Billy, a fellow grade school acquaintance, to teach you how to ride a bike. This kid may not have the proper training and therefore may not be very good at coaching or might also lack the expertise on how to help you navigate your overall data process. His coaching could wind up like the scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall when Paul Rudd just keeps saying “You’re doing too much, do less, but do more” without really giving you any good tips on how to actually get better. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t going to help you achieve your data goals.

Step 2: Training Wheels Off

After you crush it in step one for a few weeks we can remove the training wheels and just be there to coach, catch, and course correct your team members only when they start to struggle. This follows the I do, we do, you do model of teaching which provides the best way for on the job and contextual learning. We bring your team into our sprints and have them leverage our templates and properly configured tools which allows them to incrementally add and update rather than trying to build from scratch right out the gate.

Co-development sessions and sprint tasks are great ways to quickly up-skill team members only when you have the ability to actually support their learning and provide a safe environment for failure. This is one of the biggest factors in data team success. 

Step 3: You’re doing it! You’re really doing it!

Once you have mastered how to ride, it’s time for us to let Little Company Inc pedal down the road. We let go but  we’re here cheering you on every time we see you ride by. We helped you learn the form and build the muscles needed to drive this thing. We helped you plot your journey, provided you with best practices and recommended the top modern data stack components for your use case to ensure success is only a matter of your determination, not the bike you are riding. 

What’s Next?

You conquered that mountain and when you’re ready to learn the next hard thing we will be there. Maybe that’s mountain biking, bmx, or unicycle riding. And when you are ready to move on to the next mode of transportation, we also have a driving school to help you  go even faster and farther (data lakes, data mesh, predictive analytics, streaming, etc.).

Let’s get you riding as soon as possible because you have places to go and things to achieve. And once  we get you up and peddling down the road, we hope you come back for the next transportation lesson so we can help you soar even higher. And when you see other little .io’s and .com’s trying their darndest….please tell them your success story and let them know that we are always here to help others learn to ride their data bicycle.  

For more information on how we can help you along your data journey, please contact us at sales@dataclymer.com or fill out our Contact Us form.   Happy Riding! 


Adam

Adam is a managing Cloud Data Consultant with expertise in training and education, technology implementations, data analytics, data strategy, solution architecture, financial modeling, marketing analytics, cloud architecture, and more. He makes sure that expectations are clear, next steps are defined, commitments are kept, and no one is left behind.