No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the full load of data

There is a famous saying from the military world stating that: “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” At least one blogger has used the paraphrasing saying: “No plan survives contact with the data.” A good read by the way.

Helmuth_Karl_Bernhard_von_Moltke
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

Like most famous sayings also this phrase is simplified from the original version. The military observation made by Helmuth von Moltke the Elder is in full length: “No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force.”

Translating the extended military learning into data management makes a lot of sense too. You may plan data management activities using selected examples and you may test those using nice little samples. Like skirmishes before the real battle in warfare. But if your data management solution goes live on the full load of data for the first time, there most often is news for you.

From my data matching days I remember this clearly as explained in the post Seeing is Believing.

The mitigation is to test with a full load of data before going live. In data management we actually have a realistic way of overcoming the observation made by Field Marshall Helmuth Carl Bernard Graf von Moltke and revisit our plan of operations before the second and serious contact with the full load of data.

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2 thoughts on “No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the full load of data

  1. abhinavkhullar 9th April 2015 / 13:42

    Nice post Henrik, and you make a very valid observation.

    At such times, the organization owning the data is at the mercy of the flexibility of the tools used, ease of configuration of the tools, whether they scale up, etc. All fine things that the sales and marketing teams talk about, but in my experience, managing success starting from “news for you after full go-live” goes down to one thing – flexibility of the solution provider, as an organization.

    • Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 13th April 2015 / 09:46

      Indeed Abhinav. It is a blessing to have a solution provider that just don’t think that data is the client’s problem. Having a provider that works proactively with you on the actual data at hand is a win-win.

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