Wax on, wax off: a lesson in foundational data
Switchboard May 13
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Here’s an analogy you probably weren’t expecting to read about today: foundational data and The Karate Kid.
Though it’s something that would rarely come to mind, they’re more similar than you might think.
When studying martial arts, students spend a large amount of time learning the basics, sometimes spending hours on end just learning how to adopt a proper stance. Though it may sound extreme, having a proper stance is key to being a competent fighter. If your knees are locked out, or they’re facing the wrong direction, or your feet aren’t shoulder-width apart, you’re going to have a bad time.
You might have a mighty kick or punch, but it won’t be of much value to your defense if your foundation is faulty. In fact, you are more likely to injure yourself. Your stance has to be solid before you engage in any other training. This can be seen in The Karate Kid, where Daniel-san is tasked with painting fences, waxing cars, and sanding floors to get familiar with the movements before he learns to do anything else.
The same goes for your data:
Before making any strategic business decisions, you need to have your foundational data set in stone. If you make decisions based on your raw data you might end up causing more harm than good. Just like Daniel-san, your data needs to undergo an entire process (e.g. extracting, transforming, loading) to become foundational. This process of “training” your data is necessary if you want to make informed business decisions that you can feel confident about.
To be an effective martial artist, you need a solid foundation that you can rely upon. To be a truly data-driven organization, your data asset needs to be built on the same.
Now, wax on and wax off that raw data.
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