Silicon Valley State of Mind, a blog by John Weathington, "The Science of Success"
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Silicon Valley State of Mind

Tips, thoughts, and advice based on the consulting work of John Weathington, "Silicon Valley's Top Information Strategist."

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5 Reasons To Love Your Data Scientists

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Are you noticing anything wrong with your data science team?

I'm sure you are; it's human nature. A client recently told me that she came home one day and noticed that there was a water-filled glass sitting directly on a wood table. She asked her husband, "Where is the coaster for this glass?" Her husband responded, "That's what you noticed? I just finished cleaning the entire house!"

I see a lot of leaders frustrated with their data science team. They've spent a lot of money so the have very high expectations. In consulting, we call that White Knight Syndrome, and I deal with it all the time. So when things don’t go as expected, they go down a very classic route of identifying gaps and solving problems. Not only is this enervating, but it's a reckless abuse of your data science team's potential. It's far better to build on the strengths of your data science team, than it is to improve on their weaknesses. Here are five things to absolutely love about your data scientists.

They Fuel An Uncatchable Competitive Advantage

Your data science team is a key ingredient for a breakthrough competitive advantage. This is no joke; so don't ever overlook this fact. They tackle unsolvable problems for fun, in a way no other profession can. Most people take for granted how the data scientists at Google have changed the world, with a search engine that was late to the party. Sure, the leaders had the vision that powerful search capabilities would equate to market domination; however, it was the data scientists that figured out to jump into our brains, figure out what we were trying to find, and bring back the most relevant results. Google's data scientists made it one of the most powerful organizations in the world.

They're A+ Students In School and Life

Data scientists learn fast and retain extremely well. They've done it their whole lives. Most data scientists you encounter excelled in school—4.0 GPA in high school and college. And although you would expect them to get good grades in computer science and math, remember that a computer science degree has more than just computer science classes. Data scientists don't only get good grades in math and science; they get good grades in everything. Don't be shy about bringing them into your business world. They'll start contributing real value faster than you realize.

They Deliver No Matter What

Data scientists are extremely loyal under the right conditions--sometimes to a fault. I can't count the number of times I've been roped into an all-nighter because of situations far out of my control. We dig in and we deliver anyway; it's part of that excellence gene that I referenced earlier. The only thing you need to do is setup the right conditions, which has more to do with job satisfaction than money (although a good paycheck doesn't hurt either). Data scientists love to create data masterpieces with people they enjoy. With the right environment and the right challenge, they'll stay with you all the way.

They Are A Magnet For Other Talent

It seems like everybody's having a hard time finding good data scientists, except for other data scientists. If you're a leader, you probably know a lot of other leaders; so, guess who data scientists hang out with? You guessed it--other data scientists. This is important to you on a number of levels. If you ever need to extend your team, the best source for finding more data scientists is the team you already have. Also, the data scientist community is very supportive. So if your team actually gets stuck on a problem, there's a huge brain trust at their disposal that's ready and willing the help.

They Save Your From Yourself

Data scientists think through everything before making a decision. This will and should drive you crazy if you're an impulsive leader. Impulse is good for immediate action, but like all things the best results come from Aristotle's golden mean--the desirable middle between two extremes. At one extreme is a knee-jerk reaction that gets you into trouble (sound familiar?) and at the other extreme is analysis paralysis. The trick is to get the right balance, and you won't do that without the counsel and reason of your data scientists. You may think you have a good idea, but it won't sit right with your data scientists until there's data, research, and analysis. This voice will save your assets more times than not.

Summary

Identifying problems and closing gaps with your data science team will only bring you status quo; however, identifying strengths and raising the bar will catapult you to a place nobody can catch. Instead of obsessing about what's wrong; invigorate your organization by using the strengths within your data science team. There's a lot to love: they're extremely bright, loyal, and precise. Make this your starting point and enjoy your immaculate house, instead of worrying about a missing coaster.

Submitted for Publication in TechRepublic’s Big Data Analytics Blog

This is the sneak peak of my latest contribution to TechRepublic’s Big Data Analytics Blog. As editors do, when this gets published, some of the words and content may be arranged or deleted for a variety of reasons including SEO. What you’re looking at here is the uncut, unabridged, unedited version of the article that was submitted.

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John Weathington is President and CEO of Excellent Management Systems, Inc., a management consultancy that helps people and organizations achieve strategic results. His Fortune 500 clients include Hewlett Packard, PayPal, Sun Microsystems, Hitachi Data Systems, Cisco and Visa where he managed and mobilized their enterprise data strategy, a comprehensive program of 150 projects, over 45 initiatives, and 5 major tracks. John can be found on many social media sites including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+.

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Guest Tuesday, 16 October 2018