image Those of you who have been following our popular Data Zoo series of blog posts and White Paper may be interested to know that whilst completing our Data Behaviours training course using the Data Zoo concept, we have discovered a new species in the Data Zoo – The Not Bovvered.

The Data Zoo features a number of different generic data behaviours with descriptions of how they can improve or worsen the quality of data. The Zoo includes behaviours such as the Data Anarchist, Jobsworth and Data Squirrel.

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The UK comedienne Catherine Tate created a very popular fictional character in The Catherine Tate Show called Lauren Alesha Masheka Tanesha Felicia Jane Cooper. Lauren is a stroppy 15/16 year old with the catchphrase “Am I bovvered?” – if you are not familiar with the character, this clip from Comic Relief shows when Lauren met Tony Blair.

N.B. For non-UK readers, please be reassured that not all UK teenagers are like this!!

So what does this have to do with data?

The behaviour of the Not Bovvered is not typically a data quality issue, but is a data integrity issue. They are not bothered about trivial matters like IT security or data protection. They will leave their username and password on a “Post-It” attached to their computer screen in case anyone needs access to their files. They may browse through sensitive data to find interesting facts about famous clients. When transferring data it will not be encrypted and will be stored on disks or memory sticks which then get lost in a taxi.

Positives

There is nothing positive about a Not Bovvered

Negatives

There is a high risk of data loss/leakage and fines under the Data Protection Act (or similar legislation). There is also a risk of the loss of commercial advantage and leaks to outside bodies.

This behaviour will not be compliant with corporate information security policies and may indicate non-compliance in other important areas.

Generally not good news!

Impact on others

The Not Bovvered will tend to generate a culture of non-compliance which, if allowed to persist, may lead to compliance issues in other areas and for others to copy this behaviour.

How would you correct “Not Bovvered” behaviour?

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2 thoughts on “New species in the Data Zoo – Not Bovvered

  • 4th August 2010 at 5:51 pm
    Permalink

    Whilst trying to classify some of my colleagues in the Data Zoo I found it impossible to fit them into any of the existing categories. The closest I found was the Squirrel but there is a fundamental difference between their behaviours and that of the Squirrel. I took the liberty of naming them the Data Rat.

    Like the Squirrel they are a low compliance, medium impact classification, although they probably tend to slightly higher impact (on the graph I’d put them on the immediate right of and abutting the Squirrel). Like the Squirrel they will have their own vast stores of information tucked away in spreadsheets, desktop databases (e.g. Access) and documents. Usually these will be stored on removable hard drives and USB sticks they themselves own, they may even bring their personal laptop into work with them and store/work on data on that. A Data Rat sees possession of information and data as a form of power, they have it and you don’t.

    If asked for information they will typically, rather Hedgehog like, deny having it if they possibly can. If they cannot deny having it (or they have denied it and you return with proof that they do have it) will often become quite aggressive (they move from curled up with their prickles out to hissing and spitting with their sharp teeth on display), questioning why you are asking for the information, saying they cannot reveal it due to Data Protection legislation and even moving on to personal attacks, if they feel they can get away with it, or vague threats of disciplinary action if you had that information. If eventually forced to release some of their precious data they are very astute at doing so in a way that the data is difficult to use or incorrect, but in a way that they can blame you for not asking for the right thing, e.g. quoting measures in imperial when you expected them in metric, different measures for different items (fuel oil in centalitres but lubrication oil in decalitres) without specifying that or using odd time periods for summations (one guy I once worked with would round monthly sales figures to the nearest whole week, so most months were 4 weeks and some were 5, but didn’t specify that he was doing that). They are also adept at ‘forgetting’ to include people in distribution lists for reports or delivering data slightly too late for it to be usable.

    Data Rats are, in my experience, most prevalent in the large corporations or public sector bodies where the sheer scale of the organisation means there’s plenty of other people to blame and there’s space to play political games. Often they will have one or two people they will share data with freely, usually a senior manager who’s favour they are currying. The Data Rat is usually a highly political animal.

    Like the “Not Bovvered” they have no positive features but their negative aspects are positively destructive. You have to work extra hard to get any data and usually it will be of little use or even wrong when you do get it. I picked the name Rat for this as they really are disease carrying vermin as far as data management and usage is concerned.

    Reply
    • 5th August 2010 at 8:22 am
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      Stephen,

      Thanks for your comments – it certainly sounds like you have an interesting group of colleagues on your current assignment!

      I think that your observations highlight that there may be staff who try to sabotage the efforts of others. The Data Rat is a good name for such an individual. I would hope that they are in a minority in any organisation – I have occasionally come across some of these traits, but not to the extent that you illustrate. It sounds like you have a rat infestation to deal with!!

      Time for the Rat poison – Removing such devious staff from an organisation will not be easy – especially in a rule bound public organisation. Therefore, another approach may be to get the Chief Executive/MD or similar to state acceptable and unacceptable data behaviours (i.e. personal hoards are not acceptable). If this were to be followed by an amnesty to allow staff to hand over such data without recrimination, then this should flush out much data. It will also then put you on firmer ground if Data Rats are uncovered in future.

      Julian

      Reply

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