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The Cycle of Doom vs. the Cycle of Virtue

It is said that if an organization is not growing, it is dying. In other words, there is no such thing as stasis. Either you are moving forward, or you are moving backward, but you are always moving.

The same can be said for data management. Either your data management practices continue to help improve the quality and value of your data, or they slowly (or quickly) move your data toward garbage and uselessness.

I’ve written before about the Cycle of Doom and the Cycle of Virtuous data management.

In the cycle of doom, users are not making a conscious effort to keep data in the primary database clean and usable. As a result, users stop using the database, and as a result of that, the data becomes less and less useful. Ultimately the data becomes useless and the database, in turn, is abandoned. Staff winds up running their own shadow databases. Customer and member service, member engagement, and organizational effectiveness all suffer.

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On the flip side, the cycle of virtue, works this way: Staff actively manages the data, which continues to improve its value and utility. As a result of the data being so useful, staff (and customers) continually update the data. This leads to higher value data, higher member engagement, and better experiences for both staff and members and customers.

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In both cycles, there is active behavior. In the cycle of doom, staff manages their data in silos; in the cycle of virtue, the data is managed centrally. There isn’t a significant difference in the level of work required to manage either cycle; there is a significant difference in how the data is managed.

So whether or not you know it, when it comes to managing your organization’s data, you’re either in a cycle of virtue or a cycle of doom; there’s no static state. It’s one or the other. Which one are you?

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