What Is “The Messy Middle” of Data?
“The idea about the messy middle came from a conversation I had with Michael Ramsey with ServiceNow. It was related to customer service. He came up with the idea of the messy middle. We realized that the messy middle is not something which is exclusive to the customer service and there’s messy middles all over organizations.
One piece of research claims that only somewhere between 15% and 17% of all organizations are making good on their data strategy. They’re not hitting their objectives.
This messy middle problem isn’t exclusive to data. It’s all over the organizations. We tend to look at things in the exterior but don’t necessarily think deeply about how we do things. It’s when we look deeper that we actually find the real nutty problems.”
I remember talking to a friend of mine, James, who is a process and data guy. His job in larger organizations is to go around and sort of improve processes. He said to me, “You know what? 95% of problems don’t happen within teams. 95% of problems happen in the gaps between teams.”
The problem is that’s 100% of where our focus is not. Our focus is generally in our teams and in the domains that we control, not in the things that connect what we do. The gaps in between all the teams, processes and systems: That’s where we don’t focus but that’s where most of the problems show up.”