If like me, you attend data conferences, then there’s one word you will hear time and time again: “journey“. It’s an incredibly popular word in the data-driven transformation world, and it’s common to hear a speaker talking about the “journey” their business is on. But, for me, I often struggle with that word.
The Oxford Dictionary defines a “journey” as follows:
Journey: the act of travelling from one place to another
So to be on a journey, I feel we need to have a very clear understanding of (1) where we are travelling from and (2) what our destination is.
For example, as I’m writing this, I’m on a “journey” – I am travelling by train from my home (my starting point) to our London office (my destination). Knowing my starting point and destination allows me to select the most appropriate route, estimate the time I need to invest to reach my destination, and allows me to understand my current progress along that route. And, if I encounter any difficulties or delays on my journey (surely not on British trains!) then I know how to adjust and reset my expectations to ensure my route is appropriate and understood.
If we compare this to the use of the word “journey” in the context of data-driven transformation, I’m not entirely sure it fits. When I speak with data and analytic leaders who are on a data-driven journey, it is surprising how often there is a lack of clarity over the destination, or their current position, which makes it very difficult to plan and measure progress.
But I see how the word journey has become so common – it conjures a sense of momentum and change which really fits the world of data-driven transformation.
However, I recently came across this incredible word, which I think may be more fitting. The origins of the word are unknown, but it is defined as follows:
Coddiwomple: to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination
Despite being a lovely word to use, I think it is a far more appropriate description of many data-driven “journeys” I have encountered.
Know your destination
So if you’re currently on a “data-driven coddiwomple” and want to be on a “data-driven journey”, then you need only decide on a destination – in other words, what does a “data-driven” version of your current business look like? In my experience, this can vary significantly – I’ve worked with organisations who see the destination as everything from a fully autonomous company to a place with highly disruptive business models.
Once this is decided, then you can build data-driven maturity models to measure your value and inform downstream investments – in the meantime, “Happy Coddiwompling!!”