In which Jill has the moment that most women dread--and is grateful when she discovers it's anticlimactic.
Every woman has a moment where she thinks to herselfâ€”or shrieks aloud, depending on the circumstanceâ€”â€śOmigod. Iâ€™m turning into my mother.â€ť I had that moment last Thursday. And, to make matters worse (or better), I wasnâ€™t standing before a mirror or admonishing a child, I was meeting with a client.
You see my mother had a parenting style that was ahead of its time. She was never pedantic. She didnâ€™t lecture or finger-wag. She raised neither voice nor paddle. She simply encouraged us to think about the â€śeventual outcomeâ€ť of our decisions and weigh the consequences of our actions. She was sober and deliberate and encouraging. There were plenty of skinned knees.
So here I am sitting the headquarters of this consumer packaged goods firm talking to a director. He wonders why he has five full-time people managing the companyâ€™s product item master. The company runs a packaged ERP system that requires a heavy amount of customization and lots of manual effort. The director knows that there are business processes that arenâ€™t automated. He also knows that the systemâ€™s data is badâ€”and getting worse.
For instance, every time a new part appears on a purchase order, these five busy managers schedule a meeting and discuss the new product. They try to determine whether the new product resembles another product, if it matches a current product, if itâ€™s already been defined or could otherwise already exist on the item master list. Sometimes the product has more than one manufacturerâ€”think 3/4-inch Number 5 bolt, ten threads-per-inch coming from multiple factoriesâ€”and they have to work that out too. Most of the time the team suspects the product already exists in the database. But confirming this isnâ€™t as easy as simply creating a new record for the product. Sometimes these meetings get tense. Business people have to be called, and sometimes business executives show up to mediate. And so it goes.
I found myself asking the director what his desired outcome was. I inquired whether the manual management and reconciliation of data was worth the effort. I speculated about other work the five managers could be doing if they werenâ€™t tussling over data. I asked the director to think about why he was unwilling to front the budget money for a data quality tool that could profile the data and automate its reconciliation. I was sober and, other than the welfare of my client, I had no agenda. Nothing doctrinaire, just some gentle guidance.
Thatâ€™s when my Mother Moment hit me. But, in a supernatural moment of kismet, itâ€™s also when my client saw the light. â€śWell, could we work up some sort of prototype project?â€ť he asked tentatively. Breakthrough. Thanks, Mom!
Posted October 23, 2006 1:55 PM
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