I’ve banned the word “meeting”. And I’m going to ban the word “data” next

I’ve banned the word “meeting”. And I’m going to ban the word “data” next

Posted by Pete Loughlin in e-Procurement 02 Jul 2012

A meeting is not what you do. It is the forum in which you do something. You discuss problems in order to develop a plan to resolve them. You provide updates on progress of a project in order to gain approval to move to the next stage. You may sell your product or buy a product. These are the things you do in a meeting. If you have a busy day coming up, preparing an important presentation and responding to lots of emails, you wouldn’t say “I’ve got to use the computer a lot today” – you just wouldn’t. So why do people say “I have lots of meetings today”?

So I’ve banned the word meeting. I want to remain focused on the purpose of any meeting rather than the meeting itself and I want my staff and colleagues to do likewise. And next, I’m going to ban the word “data”.

Purchasing Insight logoI was inspired to do this when I read a really interesting blog by Cap Gemini’s Steve Jones, their global lead for Master Data Management. In it, he discusses Data Governance – a topic close to my heart. As I’ve mentioned many times, poor data management is one of the most significant reasons why e-procurement programs fail and, as Steve points out, it could be because of the language we employ.

“Stop talking about Data.” Steve explains. “Data is what you have today and the reason you have Data is that it isn’t governed and you don’t have trust in it.  What you want is Information.  Making that subtle shift in language and putting it forwards in that way is a very powerful mental cue for your organization.  Everyone complains about Data issues but calling things ‘data stewards’ and ‘data governance’ just emphasizes the connection with the problem rather than the solution.”

He makes a great point. The language we use only needs to be slightly wrong to establish and embed sub-optimal practice. It may seem like semantics but getting the language right can help people focus on what’s important.

And finally, Steve suggests that we stop “talking about the Product Data problems” and instead talk about “Product Information benefits”.

That’s my mid year resolution sorted. I’ll no longer complain about poor catalog data and instead talk about the benefits of improved product information.

Pete Loughlin

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