I first read this phrase in a James Clear blog post. And what it means, simply put, is that before you can really optimize any behavior, you have to standardize how you perform that behavior. And this is so true when it comes to data management.
I harp constantly about the need to document processes. The primary reason this is important is that, as an organization, you have to have some agreement on how we do things. Documentation helps to bring us to that agreement. Another way to look at documentation is to see it as standardization. These are our standard practices.
Once you have your practices documented, once you’ve standardized your practices, then you can begin to optimize them.
Many of my clients ask me to help them with best practices and to improve their processes. Only by establishing standard practices can we then begin to optimize them.
So look around your organization. Are your data management practices documented (standardized)? If they’re not, it’s going to be exceedingly difficult to optimize them.