Editors note: Anne Legg recently summited Mt Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft) the tallest freestanding mountain on the planet. It took her eight days to do the climb and during this adventure, she realized how this experience offered many insights for credit unions. This post is part of an educational series called big data, big climb. To learn more, please visit https://www.anneleggthrive.com/education-sessions.
We arrived at Barranco camp late on day three and did not get a clear view of the Barranco wall until sunrise on day four. A first glance Barranco wall appears to be incredibly steep. It is a wall of sheer cliffs jutting up from the Great Barranco Valley. It is not only incredible to look at, but it lends itself to spectacular views of Mt Kilimanjaro’s ice fields. It stands at 843 feet and is a straight-up vertical climb. Starting at about 13,000 feet and then finishing at nearly 14,000.
To give you perspective, the Empire State Building in New York City stands 1,250 feet (102 stories), and the Barranco wall stands around 84 stories.
Barranco wall is the most technical part of the entire climb. It is considered a class 4 out of 5 on the Yosemite Decimal system. The system that ranks the difficulty of hikes. Class four is defined as hands and feet necessary to easily ascend. Falling would be serious. There are only five classes.
We climbed over rocks, with 20+ lbs. of gear in the wet, cold, and rain.
One of the unique features is Kissing Rock. Kissing Rock is a narrow section of the trail that has an intimate spot to navigate with an intimidating drop-off. It is navigated by facing the sheer cliff, outstretching your arms to find handholds, and pressing your face as close to the rock as you like. while sliding your feet across the narrow path until you get past the cliff. Best advice. Don’t look down!
Identifying your organization’s “Barranco Walls”
When an organization embarks on data transformation, it will face its own Barranco Wall. And, usually more than one.
There are six typical “Barranco walls”:
- Technology – the lack of it and the incredible amount of disparate systems. Most credit unions have 60-100 data systems,
- Tools – current ones are not appropriate for the task. Ie, using excel spreadsheets in place of Power BI,
- Time – not enough, unrealistic schedules as current “job responsibilities” needs to continue,
- Tiny Budgets – not enough money or resources to effectively embrace data transformation,
- Tunnel Vision – minimal scope or vision on data transformation – feel it is only a “technology” project, not an enterprise project.
- Talent – this is the most important. The culture may be defined as legacy. Meaning they do not embrace the unknown with excitement and belief they can manage it. Culture is the number one reason why most data transformation projects do not reach their full potential because the talent does not hold an “explorer” mindset. To change culture is one of the most challenging areas of an organization to see improvement, and yet the most overlooked when planing a data transformation project.
Evaluation & Assessing Barranco Walls
The first phase of any data transformation project is an enterprise assessment.
Spend plenty of time evaluating the “Barranco walls.” Not only in the identification, but also consider the following:
- What should the enterprise stop doing?
- What should the enterprise start doing?
As the enterprise works on actions to start, add in time for designing/brainstorming/vetting/testing these new actions.
Kick-butt with incremental success
Don’t let the sheer size of the obstacle deter the ability to overcome it. On the mountain, the most commonly used Swahili phrase was “Pole, pole!” Pronounced “pole – lay.” Translation is “go slow!” You will get to the summit, just one measured step at a time.