The Power of Small Efforts for Data Professionals

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As a data professional, do you ever get the feeling that there’s just too much to be done? A feeling of being overwhelmed is often paralyzing. Sometimes necessary steps are pushed back until a “better time”. No time is perfect, and ignored problems usually become worse. However, as Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”


Danette McGilvray, President and Principal of Granite Falls Consulting, Inc,

Danette will be presenting her seminar & workshop Ten Steps to Data Quality for IRM UK in London on 8-9 December 2016 and 6-7 June 2017


A single step is a small effort, and fortunately, small efforts can make a big difference. For example, if you have a hard time describing the necessity of data quality to decision makers in your organization it may be helpful to collect several helpful anecdotes. If you want to begin to effect change in your organization’s data quality, the answer may begin in picking up a data quality book, attending a webinar, or signing up for a course[1] so that you are better equipped with the skills you need. Once you have started, continue to build on that and you may be surprised at how much progress you make. The cumulative effect of small efforts is often greater than the sum of their parts.

Think of small steps toward data quality in much the same way as savings for retirement. Building the habit of regularly setting money aside for the short term and investing for the long term helps to ensure financial security. Building the habit of consistent small efforts helps to ensure short term progress and improved data in the long term that supports your organization’s business needs.

Just like saving, however, progress can be derailed if we are inconsistent with our efforts or lose sight of the end goal. In these hectic times, it is easy to become distracted. What small efforts can you take at your organization to keep moving toward your data quality goals?

[1] For example, the Ten Steps to Data Quality course  taking place 8-9 December 2016 and 6-7 June 2017 offered through IRM UK

Danette McGilvray is president and principal of Granite Falls Consulting, a firm that helps organizations increase their success by addressing the information quality and data governance aspects of their business efforts. Focusing on bottom-line results, Granite Falls’ strength is in helping clients connect their business strategy to practical steps for implementation. Granite Falls also emphasizes the inclusion of communication, change management, and other human aspects in data quality and governance work. Danette is the author of Executing Data Quality Projects: Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information™ (Morgan Kaufmann, 2008).  An internationally respected expert, Danette’s Ten Steps™ approach to information quality has been embraced as a proven method for both understanding and creating information and data quality in the enterprise. A Chinese-language edition is also available and her book is used as a textbook in university graduate programs.  You can reach her through email:, LinkedIn: Danette McGilvray, Twitter: @Danette_McG or phone: +1 510-501-8234.

This article Copyright 2016 by Danette McGilvray, Granite Falls Consulting, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.  See for more information about Granite Falls and her book Executing Data Quality Projects: Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information™ ( Morgan Kaufmann, copyright 2008 Elsevier, Inc.)

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