Being Intentional about Creating Business Value

Allow me to share a quote with you. It was written by a great samurai sword master hundreds of years ago. Don't worry, this is not an attempt at a flattering parallel between data professionals and ancient far-eastern warriors.

In The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi states the following:

The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy's cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him. More than anything, you must be thinking of carrying your movement through to cutting him. You must thoroughly research this.

The mindset portrayed in it had a great impact on how I approach business- and data-related topics. My sincere hope that it resonates with you as well.

Of course, it should be obvious what you strive to achieve when fighting with a sword. But apparently it's not. Students get lost in executing on elements, such as parrying, in isolation. Losing the goal out of sight in the process and performing worse than they could if they had the right mindset to guide their actions.

Although the text passage is focused on mastering the art of sword fighting, the lesson within it can benefit most areas which require mastery. The core advice, in my understanding, is to attain, cultivate and apply a goal-oriented mindset. To make it part of everything you do and make sure that every single component leads up to it. It is such an important point, that Miyamoto describes it as essential to attain and further emphasizes that the reader must thoroughly research it.

Transferring this to the world of data-driven businesses: when working with company data, your conscious goal should always be to create a positive impact on the business.

It's not about the technical and implementation details by themselves. It's not about building the most impressive data system you can afford and come up with for its own sake. The intention, even when before starting out on thinking about a data project, is to create business value. Everything else follows.