Sunday, 4 November 2012

Is your business culture like a Greek tragedy?

Sounds a bit dramatic? It could well be. But the phenomenon I am referring to is the tale of Cassandra. In Greek mythology, Cassandra was a beautiful woman who refused the romantic attention from the god, Apollo. He had his revenge by giving her the gift of being able to see the future, but in a cruel twist, cursed her so that no-one would believe her. She was said to have been ignored when she predicted the fall of the ancient city, Troy.

Sadly, this is a real phenomenon. There are people who have been totally ignored by their colleagues and peers. Nouriel Roubini was the economist who accurately predicted the collapse of the housing market and the worldwide recession. The New York Times famously labelled him, "Doctor Doom", and he was ignored when he addressed the IMF about his concerns. 

Environmental campaigners have been predicting the global warming, melting ice caps, rising sea levels and crazy weather since the 1970's, when the phenomenon was labelled the greenhouse effect. To this day, they are still being ignored, despite the rising tide of scientific evidence that it is happening. 

When someone makes wild claims to be able to see the future, and their predictions are excessively negative and not based on any sound judgement, they are often referred to as having a "Cassandra Complex".

Operating in the space of data management, data governance and data quality, you could very easily be labelled as "Cassandra". You will be telling people that the easiest way is not the best. You should be warning them of unacceptable risk taking. You should be encouraging best practices. You will be insisting on higher standards of technical development. This is not the kind of thing that most people want to hear.

How do you avoid being labelled the tinfoil-hatted doom merchant in the corner? Stay tuned. My next blog article will tell you how.

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