NEWS

Chief Data Officer – The first 100 days, part 1

Authors: Caroline Carruthers, Chief Data Officer Network Rail, and Peter Jackson, Head of Data The Pensions Regulator.

The first 100 days Part 1

Gartner predicted that by 2019, 90% of large organisations will have hired a CDO – but only 50% of these will be a success. Much of what determines your success or failure going forward will take place in the first 100 days. Essentially it is about getting the basics right now and building firm foundations for the future.

What do you expect when you start? The first 100 hundred days are important to set the expectations for the CDO you are going to be going forward; now from one CDO to another, expect a real rollercoaster of a ride, there will be amazing highs followed by moments where you sit with your head in your hands wondering what on earth you have done. Basically a microcosm of the rest of your role as a CDO just crammed into a shorter time period.

The very first thing you need to do is understand your organisation’s case for change; if it’s not there, create it; if it needs help, redefine it. But whatever you do make sure you have a clear easy-to-describe case for change. In order to be an effective CDO you will be changing the organisation, and no change starts without a burning platform or an absolutely massive benefit at the end. If you can’t find the case for change then you might as well go home at this point.

The case for change helps you set the vision for what benefits you are aiming for, whether they are saving the organisation from repeating mistakes or gaining insight to derive more value. It’s the compelling argument that makes people want to help create the future you are selling. It also helps to set your scope out and start to set expectations about what you will and won’t be doing. People often forget about the ‘not doing’ part of a scope but it’s equally important as what you are doing, if not more so, without it people can overlay their own expectations and just assume they are getting everything they’ve always wanted just because they misinterpreted what you meant. Whilst you need to create a compelling vision, it’s best to be realistic about where you can go, what it will feel like, and how long it is going to take to make a difference.

There is no point in starting a journey without having an idea of your destination. You don’t need a fixed point you are trying to drag the company to, rather an idea in mind of where you are leading them. A bit like giving them a treasure map where you might not have buried the treasure yet but you know what island you are burying it on, they will get more maps the closer to the goal they get.

We are going to assume you have a team in place, knowing how long this process can take, unless we assume you have a team in place the whole story of your first 100 days will be taken up by fighting to get people to come and help you against departments who practice the dark arts and refuse to let you see the play book. There is a need to have people around you to help as no one person will ever be able to change the company without a lot of support. Apart from the need for skills and experience that are varied and wide ranging, you also need the support when you have some of your rollercoaster lows to help you get back on the upward track.

Then you need to look at what basics you are trying to get right, what materials are going to make up your foundation?

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