What's in this podcast?

In this episode Jason sits down with the founder of Data Kitchen, Christopher Bergh (otherwise known as the ‘Head Chef’) to discuss the importance of DataOps, and how this can be translated to improving the performance of technical data teams. They discuss how imperfect action can be better than delaying your delivery…only to find out it has flaws. Shorter delivery time, and the importance of continuous feedback are also covered.

Listen to this episode on Spotify, iTunes, and Stitcher. You can also catch up on the previous episodes of the Hub & Spoken podcast when you subscribe. 

What are your thoughts on this topic? We’d love to hear from you; join the #HubandSpoken discussion and let us know on Twitter and LinkedIn.  

Chris Bergh of DataKitchen, joined Cynozure CTO, James Lupton for a webinar, now available for you on-demand: Elevate Your Data Strategy with DataOps 


One Big Message 

Imperfect action is much better than delaying your delivery only to find out it has many flaws in it. Try to shorten your delivery time as much as possible and get ongoing feedback to improve your deliverable as necessary.  

[00:45] How Chris got into the field of data and what inspired him to create Data Kitchen 7 years ago 

[04:30] Why you need to take a different approach to leading technical teams 

[06:40] How to manage clients expectations while directing a team 

[09:02] How data ops can triage problems and help improve your team’s performance 

[15:35] Why Chris created a ‘data manifesto’ and where he drew inspiration from 

[25:00] The shocking statistic behind the composition of data and software teams  

[26:50] Why you need to deliver value right now, even if it seems small and ways you can add value to your client right now 

[31:00] Why influence and analysis are important values to have as a leader 

[34:00] Chris’ top tips to implement now to help improve your team 


Leading people in a technical environment 

Leading people, especially when there are complex technical tasks that need to be completed can be quite difficult. It becomes harder to communicate what you do to clients, and sometimes you need to let go of control when it comes to super specialised tasks.  

Due to the technical nature of certain roles within a data team it can be all too easy to start playing the blame game when a problem arises. In this circumstance it is important to remember that the only thing you own as a team leader is the system which you create for your team. Instead of trying to pass the blame around, step back and look at what can be improved for next time. 

One of the most important skills a team leader can have is cultivating influence. As a leader, you need to be able communicate clearly with a client, your team and the associated teams in a way that can help carry a project forward. It is not productive to try and battle out the nitty-gritty with a client who won’t be able to grasp all the technical ins and outs of your project. Focus on your ability to communicate client concerns to the team in order to get a quicker solution.  


Your adaptability will determine your success 

Don’t procrastinate on trying to perfect something for four months only to find out it has flopped. Instead, try to push out your delivery as fast as possible and then fix as necessary. Your cycle time will be short, but you will learn and improve faster. This will help to create momentum in your projects.   

Data analytics is a field where delayed value has become the norm. Cut through this by delivering value every single week. Provide an improvement, tweak your strategy or sit down and review your progress. The needle doesn’t have to move far but it needs to keep moving. 


Create a manifesto (or adapt one) for your team 

Having a manifesto and data strategy in place early on helps to stack the deck in your favour.   

When you create a manifesto, it helps to solve a lot of problems before they occur because it clarifies what you do, and how you plan on approaching your work. This is particularly important for data strategy because what you do and how you execute ultimately ties into the systems you will implement.

If you are having trouble coming up with a manifesto from scratch, you can borrow manifestos from other related fields and adapt them to your team.  


Embrace errors 

If you learn to love your errors, you will always be in a constant state of improvement.

 One way you can do this is by taking time out of every week to monitor your progress. Firstly, identify the tasks that take a long time to complete. From there, pick out one part of that task that can be improved and work on it throughout the week. Over time, these little improvements in your systems will add up, decreasing your delivery times and improving performance.   


To summarise: 

Leading a technical team can be challenging, but by creating boundaries with a manifesto and improving your influence as a team leader you can navigate any prickly situation you might encounter.  


Chris shares more of his expertise in our on-demand webinar: Elevate Your Data Strategy with DataOps 

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