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Ep 32 - Cathrine D'Ignazio - Getting the Data Basics Right

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Episode Summary

As an educator, I am always working with people who aren’t naturally “numbers people”. I believe that you don’t need to be a data scientist to effectively work with data.
— Catherine D'Ignazio, Data Educator

What does feminism and data science have in common? Well if you talk to Catherine D’Ignazio, quite a lot actually!

Caroline Doye

Catherine was in Minneapolis for the Eyeo Festival over the summer and Dave sat down to learn more about her presentation, some of the work she does as an educator, and about some of her side projects like the “breast pump hackathon” and the Data Literacy tool, “Data Basic”

Obviously we had to dive into the hackathon a bit more to understand exactly what that was, and how it came to be (it’s actually a really cool cause!)

But Catherine’s work in data literacy was what got us really excited.

Catherine co-created DataBasic as a suite of easy-to-use web tools for beginners that introduce concepts of working with data. These simple tools make it easy to work with data in fun ways, so you can learn how to find great stories to tell.

Dave also talked to Catherine about data journalism, something that Catherine spends a lot of time in. They talk about the mission of journalists to provide unbiased information, and how data can be such a critical piece of doing that well in the future.

More about Cathrine D'Ignazio

LinkedIn - in/catherine-d-ignazio-61a57ab1

Twitter - @kanarinka

Website - www.kanarinka.com

Passion Project - makethebreastpumpnotsuck2018.com

Data Basic (Data Literacy) - databasic.io


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Ep 31 - Tricia Duncan - Implementing Data Viz in Organizations

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The most data-informed organizations I’ve seen are the ones that have a plan, and that integrate data into their day-to-day, instead of using it as an afterthought
— Tricia Duncan, Data Luminary

As analysts and “data people” we often see all the amazing things that are possible with data, data science and data visualization. We research new tools, new technologies, and new approaches.

But we often work for organizations who are “stuck in their ways”, content with that excel table instead of a sankey diagram. This can be frustrating when you SEE the possibilities, but you can’t convince anyone to move in a better direction.

So what do you do? Is it you? Is it your organization? Is it the leadership?

In this episode of Data Able, we talk with Tricia Duncan who has been consulting on Tableau, Data Visualization, and new approaches for over 6 years. She’s worked with small, mid-size, and fortune 500s all over the midwest to help them implement data visualization best practices and truly “modernize” their approaches to analytics.

Caroline Doye

As someone who has seen all sizes and kinds of organizations, we were interested to see what kinds of roadblocks existed. Is everyone as averse to modern BI and visualization approaches, or is it just a select few?

What Tricia has seen, leads us to beleive that this is a common problem, not limited to any single team, industry, or size company.

One of her stories revolves around a Chief Marketing Officer who wanted to see some new marketing numbers. Tricia saw the opportunity, built an amazing dashboard, and was met with confusion by the CMO when delivering it back.

While her dashboard was likely “better” than what the CMO wanted, it didn’t match the intended ask. The valuable lesson Tricia (and we) learned was that its better to deliver on the ask, and “slow-feed” people a more visual approach. Give them a little bit more each time they ask for something. Getting them from 1 to 2 on the maturity scale is far easier than trying to get them from 1 to 9.

Check out the whole episode for more great tips on how to help your organization improve their analytics maturity!

More about Tricia Duncan

LinkedIn - in/triciaduncan1

Links from the episode

Data Hero - Nick Pedersen - Planning Director @ State of MN

Favorite Book - The Model Thinker

Favorite Storyteller - Octavia Butler

Favorite Podcast - Partially Derivative


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Ep 30 - Nadieh Bremer - Anatomy of a Great Data Visualization

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Want to be a better data visualizer? Make lots of projects. Look for other people’s work and try to iterate on it. Pick something you’re passionate about and start making something.
— Nadieh Bremer, Data Visualization Freelancer
Caroline Doye

We hear a lot about people transitioning into a data science role.

But how many people have you heard who are transitioning OUT of data science and into something more artistic.

Meet Nadieh Bremer, an ex-Deloitte data scientist with a background in astronomy and predictive algorithms.

Nadieh is a leader in the data visualization space, but she didn’t always start there. After years of churning out “just another predictive model” she was in search of something that fueled her more creative side. And she found data visualization! She didn’t realize just how powerful and needed these skill-sets really were.

Nadieh now does data visualization work full time through her company, Visual Cinnamon. She has won data visualization awards for her work in such publications as Scientific American, The Guardian, World Bank and Google News Lab. We also highly recommend checking out her visualization on Lord of the Rings!

We asked Nadieh to walk us through her process for creating the Lord of the Rings project. Surprisingly, there was much more to data visualization then just creating a pretty chart! Much of the data that she needed to answer her question wasn’t available in a format that was useful.

Hear her describe the effort from start to finish, and learn how to create awesome visuals that both captivate and inform!

More about Nadieh Bremer

LinkedIn - in/nbremer

Twitter - @nadiehbremer

Nadieh’s Website - Visual Cinnamon

Links from the episode

Dataviz - Lord of the Rings Project

Project - Data Sketches: A Year of Exotic Visualizations


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Ep 29 - Ben Schein - Organizations Need More Data Curiosity

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Episode Summary

I don’t want to ever build anything that’s completely done. I want to leave that last mile unfinished because it enables lots of people to answer lots of business questions.
— Ben Schein, Vice President at Domo
Caroline Doye

What if you had all the best data lakes, ETLs data pipelines, and BI tools in your organization?

What if you had an amazing team of technical data experts capable of writing python, R, SQL, and proficient at data visualization and data storytelling?

That would be great, right? You’d have a well-run data organization! Except… maybe you wouldn’t.

On this week’s episode, we talk with Ben Schein, VP of Data Curiosity from Domo. What an awesome title!

Ben is on a mission to show that simply having skills and tools is NOT enough to a data-driven organization in today’s world. As a former data leader at Target Corporation, he saw that the quality of the business team’s questions really mattered. If they were curious, asked lots of questions, and sought out insights, those teams would be most successful in implementing a data driven culture.

Of course, data curiosity is a two-edged sword. If you can’t deliver on the questions, that’s not good either. Ben’s solution was brilliant… build your data products end-to-ALMOST-end, leaving the last mile available for the business teams to scale their questions (and their answers).

Check out the whole episode for some amazing tips and stories about empowering teams with data, and developing a “data curious” workforce!

More about Ben Schein

LinkedIn - in/ben-schein

Twitter - @benfrominn

Ben’s company - Domo

Links from the episode

Book Recommendation - The Idea Factory

Mentor - Paritosh Desai, Chief Data and analytics Officer at Target

Mentor - David Hussman, Founder of DevJam

Mentor - Jason Goldberger, CEO at BlueNile


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Ep 28 - Rachel Stuve - Fusing People with Data

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Episode Summary

I can teach someone how to code or use visualization tools. But I can’t teach someone to be inquisitive and to solve a problem. The human side of data is so important.
— Rachel Stuve
Caroline Doye

The reality of data and analytics today, is that it’s not really about the data or analytics at all. It’s about the human behavior. The choices that executives and leaders make. It’s about augmenting those daily decisions to make them slightly better than if they didn’t have data. Over time, these add up to immense value.

Many analytics teams still focus on the data engineering. The data pipelines. The BI tools to use. Data governance and access to data are undoubtedly important, but it is all for nought if the human on the other side of the dashboard can’t or won’t do something about it.

That’s why I’m so excited to have people like Rachel Stuve in our industry. Rachel believes that data empowers humans: it's what gives us the ability to solve problems and change the world. With data, she believes that unlocking the true power comes from combining the human with that data.

So what does a data informed organization look like?

From what Rachel has found working with organizations large and small, these would be the steps:

  1. They would start with their business goals

  2. They would break down their goals into sub-goals

  3. What are the business questions or challenges that are keeping you from those sub-goals

  4. Link your data to those questions and challenges.

  5. Write the data pipelines, models, code, reports, dashboards and communicate

The key to all of this is that the analytics people are embedded directly in the business, linking data to the business objectives and driving value on the business’ terms.

We couldn’t agree more! Adding value starts with tightly aligned goals. Thanks for coming on the show and sharing your thoughts, Rachel!

More about Rachel

Rachel on LinkedIn - in/rachel-stuve

Women in Technology - https://www.womenintechnology.org/

Links from the episode

Book - Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die by Chip & Dan Heath

Book - Info we Trust: How to inspire the world with data by RJ Andrews

TED Talk - Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Framework - The Five Whys


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