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Archive for February, 2013

by: Robert.hillard
23  Feb  2013

For social networks, volume is the enemy of value

In this blog I often talk of the value of information.  Information is a valuable asset and companies increasingly place great store in identifying new sources of data about their products and customers.

Individually, we are also quickly assembling a mass of personal information through our social networks.  Professionally, the most popular social network is LinkedIn.

When LinkedIn launched a decade ago we enthusiastically started to build our portfolio of contacts.  Each contact has a value to us in our career.  While that value is intangible it motivates us to maintain the contact as a relationship that enhances our network.

However the volume of our contacts is starting to become overwhelming.  In many cases the accepted invitations can be counted in the thousands.  Projecting forward a decade, it is easy to see that many of us could be facing a set of contacts in the tens of thousands.

While a list of several hundred people reflected a set of connections that was meaningful in a business context, the accepted invitations that are spilling over are starting to resemble a mailing list more than a premium set of relationships.

The social networks are trying to help by adding data to the mix, enabling us to find out who values our status updates, how our connections are progressing through their careers and who is interested in our profile.  However there is an argument that this is perhaps the information equivalent of “quantitative easing”.  That is, when we are concerned that the information economy is stalling we publish more information.

The inevitable consequence of quantitative easing is, of course, inflation.

The social network that finds the solution to the inevitable inflation, that is the need to add more information just to maintain a static real value, will have a huge edge over its competitors and perhaps find a new role in the information economy.

Maybe the professional network of the future will allow contacts to degrade and eventually disappear if they are not maintained.  It could be that we will augment our relationships with other data about our interactions and hence score their real relevance to us.  At the very least we will develop better ways to mutually identify the bonds that have the greatest potential value.

What is most exciting is that the most effective solutions to managing the overwhelming number of contacts that we are accumulating probably haven’t been invented yet.  Let’s hope the solutions appear before the networks lose their value through sheer volume.

Category: Information Value

by: Bsomich
23  Feb  2013

Weekly IM Update.


Coming in March! Information Development Using MIKE2.0

Have you heard? Our new book, “Information Development Using MIKE2.0″ will be available in March.

The vision for Information Development and the MIKE2.0 Methodology have been available in a collaborative, online fashion since 2006. MIKE2.0 was developed online so that it would be freely available, editable by a global community, and take advantage of web techniques for linking and organising content.

A print version has advantages as well, however, so we are about to release “Information Development Using MIKE2.0” to introduce the great content that has been created and collected on the MIKE2.0 website to a wider audience. The book will come out both in paperback as well as all major e-book publishing platforms.

Authors for the book include Andreas Rindler, Sean McClowry, Robert Hillard, and Sven Mueller. But of course credit is due to the over 7,000 members of the MIKE2.0 community and the dozens of key contributors.

Reviews Welcome!

If you are interested in writing a review of the book, we would be happy to provide you with a free copy. Please contact


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This Week’s Blogs for Thought:

Individual Contributors and Collaboration
In my previous post, I discussed the psychology of collaboration, focusing on a few psychological concepts (social loafing and availability bias) that undermine, or at least greatly diminish the effects of, collaborative efforts, and explaining why a better understanding of these psychological concepts can help you better manage your collaborative teams for ongoing success.

In this post, let’s examine the tension that exists between individual contributors and collaboration.

Read more.
Nelson Mandela, Marissa Mayer and Data Portability

At the World Economic Forum in late January in Davos, Switzerland, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer talked about many things, including the benefits of data portability. (Watch the entire 30-minute video here.) In Mayer’s view, users should “own” their data and be able to easily export/remove it from one application or service and import it into another.

Is she right? Who’s data is it anyway? Great question. The answer depends on your point of view. From Mayer, the well-compensated CEO of a struggling former Internet heavyweight, her position here is certainly convenient.
Read more.

When Will Government Embrace Big Data?

Whether or not you’re a fan of big government, if you read this blog then you’re probably at least open to the idea of Big Data. And, when it comes to Big Data, it’s hard to envision any organization with more data at its disposal than the US federal government.

Lamentably and for a variety of reasons well beyond the scope of any individual post, the US government is (putting it very politely) still muddling through Big Data. In fact, it is doing a mere fraction of what it could with so much potentially valuable data.

Read more.

Category: Information Development
No Comments »

by: Phil Simon
21  Feb  2013

Data Profiling Is No Luxury

In his excellent series on data profiling, Jim Harris details a number of basic steps that organizations can take to assess the completeness and validity of their data, a process called data profiling. Among the many lessons that Harris imparts is the need to assess key data according to the following attributes:

  • NULL – count of the number of records with a NULL value
  • Missing – count of the number of records with a missing value (i.e., non-NULL absence of data, e.g., character spaces)
  • Actual – count of the number of records with an actual value (i.e., non-NULL and non-Missing)
  • Completeness – percentage calculated as Actual divided by the total number of records
  • Cardinality – count of the number of distinct actual values
  • Uniqueness – percentage calculated as Cardinality divided by the total number of records
  • Distinctness – percentage calculated as Cardinality divided by Actual

Admittedly, few companies do comprehensive diagnoses of key data elements prior to undertaking a massive system integration project.

A few years ago, I worked on a project for a company implementing a new ERP system (call it XYZ, Inc. here). To be sure, management was no exception to this rule. With regard to employee, customer, and vendor information, XYZ did not profile its data prior commencing the project. Instead, it opted instead for a reactive approach. The predictable result: its data quality suffered during and after the system activation.

Simon Says: Data Profiling Is No Luxury

Do not begin a major system endeavor with both a tight timeline and the assumption that all data can be cleansed during the project. Better yet, make data clean up a separate project before beginning the project in earnest.

It’s a myth to think of data profiling as a luxury. Think of it it’s an investment. The time and money spent profiling data will pay off in spades, forcing the organization to decide which data elements are essential and which are not. If there’s any part of a project that lends itself to milestone consulting, it’s data profiling. Consultants can identify data-oriented issues but should not be expected to resolve them.


What say you?

Category: Data Quality, Information Development, Information Management
1 Comment »

by: Phil Simon
19  Feb  2013

The Unpardonable Sin

A few years ago, I was looking at PR firms that could help me promote my third book, The New Small. I had worked with a small firm before a few years before on book number one and was less than pleased with the results. This time, I vowed, I was going to do a better job vetting prospective agencies.

In the course of my research, I stumbled across an interesting firm (that I’ll call ABC here) and I set up an appointment with its president and founder (let’s call her Alice).

Strike 1: Forgetting the Appointment

Normally, when someone wants my business, he or she initiates the first call. A few minutes after our call was supposed to start, my phone hadn’t rang yet. Puzzled, I dialed Alice up and spoke to her assistant, explaining that we were on for a 10 a.m. discussion. A few minutes later, I was transferred to Alice.

Here’s where things really go downhill. Alice clearly didn’t know who I was or what I had book written. It might as well had been a cold call on my end.

If Alice had apologized and politely asked to reschedule the call in a day or two, I would have gladly said yes. After all, things happen, right? I fancy myself a pretty forgiving soul–at least the first time that someone drops the ball.

Her next actions, though, sealed the deal: I would not consider working with Alice or her agency.

Alice asked for my website address while on the phone. Yes, she could have covered by googling it, but in retrospect maybe she hadn’t even written down my name. I gave her the URL and directed her to the page that had the most recent examples of my media placements. She clicked on an appearance of mine on a local New Jersey TV show (shamelessly linked).

Strike 2: Rushing to Judgment

While on the phone with talking with me, she “watched” (and I use that term very loosely) the first 15 seconds of that TV appearance. In her infinite wisdom, she quickly concluded that I needed media training. Coincidentally, her firm offered that service for people like me. What luck!

Now, I can take constructive criticism. No, really. What’s more, I may not be the most media-savvy person on the planet. However, I’m certainly so awful that someone–even a self-anointed PR expert–can size me up with half of her concentration focused on a video in under a minute. If I had slurred the first 20 words out of my mouth, refused to make eye contact with the host of the show, and wore a mustard-stained tie to the filming, maybe Alice would have been right. I told Alice that there was no way that she could make that determination so quickly (while on the phone with me).

Strike 3: No Data

At this point, I was pretty annoyed. But, if Alice knew what she was doing–and had the data to back it up–I would have still considered working with her firm. I asked for data on her clients’ success rate. I wanted to know things like the percentage of Alice’s clients appeared on national TV or public radio and how many bookings per client Alice was able to procure for her clients. She seemed puzzled that I would even ask.

That was the unpardonable sin. I would not be retaining her firm.

Simon Says

Mistakes happen. I get it. When you make one, though, own up to it and don’t compound matters. Admit that you screwed up. Don’t throw salt into the wound of your prospective client. And, most important, keep your data handy in case someone asks for it.


What say you?

Category: Information Management
No Comments »

by: Ocdqblog
12  Feb  2013

Individual Contributors and Collaboration

In my previous post, I discussed the psychology of collaboration, focusing on a few psychological concepts (social loafing and availability bias) that undermine, or at least greatly diminish the effects of, collaborative efforts, and explaining why a better understanding of these psychological concepts can help you better manage your collaborative teams for ongoing success.

In this post, let’s examine the tension that exists between individual contributors and collaboration.

Individual Contributors are Not Heroes

Individual contributors often don’t like to collaborate because they want to be in control, they want to be the hero.  However, you need to make it clear to individual contributors that they are not heroic for deliberately choosing to not collaborate.  But since there will always be some tasks that can be best handled by individual contributors, putting them to good use can be beneficial.

Therefore, what individual contributors are assigned to work on, and the recognition and rewards they will receive, must be well-communicated, both to them as well as the team that is directly collaborating.  The worst problem for collaboration is when an individual contributor either pretends to be a team player or deludes themselves into believing they are.

Individual contributors are focused on individual success, which is about competition, not collaboration.  Of course, competition isn’t always a bad thing, it’s only bad when individual success comes at a great price to others.  Collaboration means that sometimes you have to do something you don’t want to do, or you don’t agree with.  Sometimes, for the team to win, you have to let someone else be the hero.

As Arthur Ashe explained, “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.  It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”

Going from “I’m great” to “We’re great”

Ultimately, for an organization to embrace a collaborative culture, there needs to be a paradigm shift that I have previously blogged about as turning the M upside down — turning Me into We.

In their great book Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright describe this paradigm shift as moving from a Stage Three (“I’m great”) to a Stage Four (“We’re great”) organization.

“People at Stage Three have to win, and for them winning is personal.  They’ll outwork and outthink their competitors on an individual basis.  The mood that results is a collection of lone warriors, wanting help and support and being continually disappointed that others don’t have their ambition or skill.  Because they have to do the tough work (remembering that others just aren’t as savvy), their complaint is that they don’t have enough time or competent support.”

By contrast, people at Stage Four understand ubuntu, which is a word from the Bantu languages of southern Africa, which can be translated into English as “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

According to Desmond Tutu, “ubuntu is the essence of being human.  Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation.  It speaks about our interconnectedness.  We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected, and what you do affects the whole world.”

Collaboration Causes All Success

We think of ourselves far too frequently as individual contributors, separated from one another, whereas we are connected, and what we do affects the whole organization.  This is why collaboration, whether it’s direct or indirect, is what causes all of the success enjoyed by the organization.

A lot of collaboration is indirect, meaning you’re often supported by the efforts of people you don’t interact with on a daily basis, including people who (or whose work) you didn’t even know existed.

Nonetheless, since the organization is deeply interconnected, even what appears to be a success caused by an individual contribution was, in fact, a success only possible because of collaboration.

Tags: ,
Category: Information Governance, Information Management

by: Phil Simon
11  Feb  2013

Nelson Mandela, Marissa Mayer, and Data Portabilty

Where you stand depends on where you sit.”

–Nelson Mandela

At the World Economic Forum in late January in Davos, Switzerland, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer talked about many things, including the benefits of data portability. (Watch the entire 30-minute video here.) In Mayer’s view, users should “own” their data and be able to easily export/remove it from one application or service and import it into another.

Is she right? Whose data is it anyway? Great question. The answer depends on your point of view. From Mayer, the well-compensated CEO of a struggling former Internet heavyweight, her position here is certainly convenient.

2013 WEF Davos

It’s funny how Marissa advocates for data to be portable. Now, don’t get me wrong. This may well be her honest belief. It’s no coincidence, though, that Yahoo doesn’t possess a great deal of user data, at least relative to Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and possibly Twitter.  In terms of search, for instance, Yahoo!’s market share continues to dwindle.

Don’t believe me? When was the last time that you updated your Yahoo! profile? I’ll bet that it’s been a while.

A Whole, New, Data-Portable World

Image a world in which data portability is as simple as snapping your fingers. You can easily hit one button and all of the unstructured data from, say, Facebook, automatically ports into some type of Yahoo! service or application. You don’t have to repost pictures or videos–and all comments from your friends are in tact with relevant metadata (time, date, location, etc.) Your relationships, social networks, events, and entire web-browsing history just magically appear in the new service. Nothing gets lost in translation and you don’t have to write a bunch of code or know the ins and outs of ETL.

In such a world, Yahoo! could effectively piggyback on the work that Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and others have done. Mayer’s company could learn from the mistakes of those heavyweights and build a better mousetrap in the process.

There’s no doubt that such a scenario would benefit Yahoo! tremendously, but where’s the incentive for the others to effectively make Yahoo! more relevant and powerful?

Simon Says

I guarantee that if Mayer were running Facebook she’d be singing a very different tune.

More than ever, information is a mission-critical asset. Reading between the lines, Yahoo! wants more data–and better data on users and consumers. The company envies the positions of the Gang of Four, as well it should. Without a mobile OS or hardware, a popular search engine, and a viable social network, Yahoo! has to rely upon partnerships to stay remotely relevant.

Don’t let your organization make the same mistake.


What say you?

Category: Information Development
1 Comment »

by: Phil Simon
01  Feb  2013

Facebook Graph Search: A Big Data Feast

By now, the cat is out of the bag on Facebook’s Graph Search. I have no specific knowledge of the specific applications behind it. I haven’t talked to Zuck lately, and even the King of Facebook has admitted that the product is in very, very early beta. Translation: it’s coming, but not anytime soon.

What We Know–and What We Don’t

We know that Facebook uses MySQL to power at least part of its business, but we don’t know when Graph Search will be available to the masses. That doesn’t mean that we can’t have some fun examining Facebook’s forthcoming Big Data tool. We can, however, certainly make some intelligent guesses about what’s going on under the hood of its nascent product.

Traditional SQL/Relational Database

If this were 1995, such a product would have probably have run via very complex SQL statements. (I know because I used to write them back then.) In our attention-challenged world, there’s just no way that tens of millions of concurrent and complex queries could work efficiently with traditional SQL statements.

Imagine a SELECT statement on a table with billions of records and 20 conditions. Tell me all of my friends who have visited a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan in the last six months who also like Modern Family…

With “normal” SQL, this query would take hours or days and, I’d bet, crash more often than not.

Odds: Definitely not.


A very good possibility. NoSQL tools like Hadoop, Cassandra, and others have been shown to produce remarkably fast results on massive datasets. Because of fault tolerance and parallel processing, the odds of crashing are very low (if configured correctly with sufficiently powerful hardware, of course). Remember that NoSQL means “not only SQL”, not “does not use SQL.” This is a common misconception.

Odds: Likely.


NewSQL is a fairly obscure but emerging technology that theoretically takes the old standby to the next level. I have heard very positive things about NewSQL, but its lack of adoption makes me wonder whether Facebook would bet the farm on something fairly immature.

Odds: Remote.

A Hybrid or Something Else

Perhaps some of the engineers at Facebook have mixed and matched from the emerging technologies described above. Maybe they’ve taken a page from Google and developed an analog to BigTable or BigQuery and fused it with something else.

Odds: Possible.

Simon Says

Big Data and related solutions are here. 2013 may well turn out to be the year of Big Data. Regardless of the specific solution implemented, it’s important to realize that old standbys are most likely not going to produce meaningful results on enormous datasets.


What is your organization doing with Big Data?

Tags: ,
Category: Enterprise Data Management
1 Comment »

by: Bsomich
01  Feb  2013

The “Open MIKE” Podcast: Episode 11 – Information Maturity Model

We’ve just released the 11th episode of our Open MIKE Podcast series!

Episode 11: “Information Maturity Model” features key aspects of the following MIKE2.0 solution offerings:

Check it out:

Want to get involved? Step up to the “MIKE”

We kindly invite any existing MIKE contributors to contact us if they’d like to contribute any audio or video segments for future episodes.

On Twitter? Contribute and follow the discussion via the #MIKEPodcast hashtag.

You can also find the videos and blog post summaries for every episode of the Open MIKE Podcast at:

Category: Information Development
No Comments »

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