The Power of the Written Word
For Data Teams
If you are interested in building a high-performing team, I highly recommend reading Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr. A great podcast with the authors can be found here.
While it has been covered in the media before, my favorite part of the book was the detailed description of Amazon’s 6-page memo practice. Amazon employees will spend 60+ minutes crafting a great memo for their colleagues to get them on the same page. In our remote (or hybrid) working environment, written communication will be what saves us from Zoom fatigue.
So how does this relate to data teams?
More often than not, context is the missing link for data teams. Data teams cite “lack of documentation” as a frequent challenge they come across. Everyone says documentation is important, but no one wants to do it.
The good news is that a lot of this can be automated by using (or building) a metadata management platform. I appreciated this framework for the concept of “data cards” as a unified framework for data documentation. Example here:
While there are detailed principles outlined in the article, some of my favorites:
“Our solution must: increase productivity for both consumers and producers…be easy to understand for both data professionals and business people…make it easy to reach out to teams responsible for individual components”
Sometimes, though, you just have to sit down and write. A colleague once used a great line in his interview that applies here: “there’s no silver bullet, you just have to hustle.”
Building a strong documentation culture is fundamental to the effectiveness of data teams. Data leaders need to make an effort to incentivize good documentation for their teams. Documentation reduces context switching. Documentations enables self-service. Documentation creates a stronger data culture.
Links from around the ecosystem:
This message is sponsored by Atlan:
Atlan is a modern data collaboration workspace (like Github for engineering or Figma for design). By acting as a virtual hub for data assets ranging from tables and dashboards to models & code, Atlan enables teams to create a single source of truth for all their data assets, and collaborate across the modern data stack through deep integrations with tools like Slack, data warehouses like Snowflake & Redshift, BI tools like Looker, Sisense & Tableau, data science tools and more.