The Hoarding Mentality and How to Break it
By Caroline Carruthers, Group Director of Data Management, Lowell
While not belittling an obviously serious condition I would like to draw parallels with the companies we all work for. In this analogy imagine your company is the house, your data is the stuff that is being hoarded, which makes all of us the hoarders.
We all know that we keep too much data because we might need it, it’s cheap to keep so why not. We know that the amount of data we produce is growing exponentially but what does that mean, what is our comparison and what value are we getting from all this data? The figure that tells us that 90% of data has been created in the last two years is widely known now but what is more interesting is that if you took every book in every home, library and school they only account for up to 6% of the data we currently hold so what makes up the rest of it?!
Work with your organisation to understand it and help change it
We've also become conditioned to be lazy in this area, for years we have believed that IT will sort this all out for us so we don’t need to put any intelligence into it. Personal computers were smart right, you could play chess against them and spreadsheets took all the hassle out of using a calculator. It I am not for one second saying that the advent of the PC was not a good thing, far from it, I love the ability to grow, connect and feed our curiosity. What I am saying is that those spreadsheets didn’t create themselves, we have to show the PC what we wanted it to do and be really clear about it or you got some pretty odd findings, but somewhere down the line we forgot about us providing some of the intelligence in this equation. Not only did we let IT take the strain, we started to abdicate our responsibilities completely when it came to making the decisions about data.
All of this is before we even get into the problems around urgency, because there always seems to be a more pressing issue than sorting out our data or lack of ownership; keeping data just in case you need it. This list could easily go on much much longer….
We have literally become the hoarders who plot little path ways through an overcrowded house and while we recognise that it’s not the best way to treat all of this stuff, we don’t recognise the overall harm we are doing to ourselves and our company. As long as we can get from A to B or are dimly aware of where our kitchen or bedroom are supposed to be we are kidding ourselves that we are doing ok even though deep down we all know we aren’t.
Its not all doom and gloom however, help is at hand, but I am literally suggesting that we all need a dose of therapy. If we were working with a data therapist they would help us to:
• Discover why we are compelled to hoard
• Learn to organise possessions in order to decide what to discard
• Develop decision making skills
• Declutter the home with a professional organizer
• Have periodic visits and consultations to check a healthy data lifestyle
Finally this will all work best for you if you make sure you tackle the following two things – firstly focus on the whys not just the whats, why is your organisations storing everything? Why do your people store things on their flash drives? And why haven’t you updated your policies in 10 years? Secondly, work with your organisation to understand it and help change it, no one likes things that are done to them and you probably aren’t the expert in every single area of your business. Let them do what they are good at leaving you to do what you are good at.