The Data Jungle - 2019: Are You Ready?

The Data Jungle - 2019: Are You Ready?

One Scottish New Year Tradition I usually adhere to is sweeping out the detritus of the previous year, both at home and at work.

I aim to have dealt with most emails in my inbox, culled the scraps of paper on my desk, and talked to the team about what we should do in the upcoming year. I’m a great believer in: Start as you mean to go on, and, Always begin with the end in mind. Both focus the mind on determining big hairy audacious goals for the year.

That’s all very well, but like those big hairy Scottish cattle, I’m not a great fan of having them loitering around taking up space and not actually being productive. I therefore thought I would share how we start our year, particularly in planning business improvements; creating fantastic teams; and dealing with Task Management, which we will discuss in this and subsequent blogs.

Why bother planning?
At the end of last year, when triumphs, irritations and ideas were still fresh in everyone’s mind, we spent a couple of hours doing a reflection session. We ask three questions:

  • What went well?

  • What didn’t we like?

  • What improvements can we make? This may be directly related to the first two points, or be new ideas

Planning and continuous improvement is second nature to a former teacher like me. Early in my corporate career I was introduced to “Maverick” by Ricardo Semler, and which changed the culture of our workplace. Zoodata provides a safe place to talk about any of the above. No idea is considered stupid. We also discuss stresses encountered throughout the year. We can’t address what we don’t know about.

We practice collective decision making (including our change of name and branding several years ago). Consequently, ideas are more likely to be adopted and become successful. Countless successful practices here at Zoodata are a direct result of someone presenting an idea and “selling” it to the rest of us. My current favourite is Friday lunch gatherings – a sort of cultural exchange, and where topics may range from burial customs in various countries to swapping recipes or ideas on child rearing!

Where do we start?
I’m a firm believer in sensible planning with minimal paperwork. Our ideas were gathered initially in Planner (part of our Office 365 Subscription), when anyone in the session could create a bucket, place ideas in it, and include a brief description of tasks involved for others to see and add to. We also allocate a priority level to each idea – Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won’t Have. It is then my job to collect them into one document (Yearly Plan). This is not set in stone, and as per our agile development philosophy I fully expect items to be abandoned, added, and priorities changed. From the Yearly Plan I will select some of the highest priority items, and a few Should and Could Have items to tackle in the first quarter of the year.

We will always consider:

  • Is this item practical / sensible?

  • Quick wins – implementing business value quickly is important, with added benefits of building morale and creating momentum.

  • Dependencies – can an item only be tackled only after something else has been completed?

Our plans include items aimed at continuously improving business processes, development processes, and the well being of our team.

What then?
At the end of each quarter we revisit the Quarterly and Year Plans and update both. Some huge improvements we have made over the past couple of years included installation and configuration of SharePoint (countless benefits to our business, not least versioning – which has stopped me from creating duplicate files) to replace our messy file server; reducing risk by moving much of our business and development environment to the cloud; and, as a result of  Sushi Digital killing our previous website last year, creating a new and more user friendly one.

If you need help in planning your improvement regime for the year feel free to contact us for a no obligation chat: or phone: 9485 0725.