How Should a CDO Spend Their Time?

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Read more about author Jason Foster.

Unlike most C-Suite roles that have certain expectations, the chief data officer (CDO) role is still relatively new, which means it often needs to be defined by CDOs themselves. This can be both a good and bad thing: On one hand, you can carve your role and make it unique, but on the other hand, you risk wearing too many hats and juggling too many tasks. 

So how should a CDO spend their time? Having a framework that you can use and adjust as a CDO, to help block time out for certain tasks, is essential. Take note: the 40-30-20-10 rule.  

40% Leadership

When people think of “data leadership,” they often think in terms of quantitative skills such as data analysis and modeling. While it’s certainly important to have strong technical abilities, there is another critical skill that is just as important: the ability to engage with others and create community. 

Get involved in the data community. Connect with other data professionals online and in person, share your ideas and insights, and collaborate on projects. 

To build engagement and community, strive to create an amazing team and develop team culture. 

30% Defining Vision and Strategy 

As a data leader, it’s important to have strategy and vision in order to effectively guide your team. 

Strategy is about making choices that will achieve a desired outcome, while vision is about identifying long-term goals and aspirations. Both are key components of successful data management, and by understanding the organization’s vision, you can create a roadmap for success. 

20% Data Execution

Too often CDOs fall into the trap of dedicating the most time to data execution, when in fact it is a job that should be delegated out. While this is not always possible in smaller data teams, as a CDO you still need to be aware of what falls within your role as a strategic leader – and not get too wrapped up in the day-to-day execution.

10% Personal and Professional Development

Effective data leaders continuously grow and develop both their personal and professional skills. 

Make sure you’re always learning new things. Seek out training and education opportunities, read articles and books on data-related subjects, and attend conferences and workshops. And, aim to be a leader in your field and within your organization. Demonstrate your expertise by writing blog posts or articles, speaking at conferences, leading meetups or user groups, or authoring books or white papers. 

The CDO is still a relatively new role in the business world and can often be overwhelming. The 40-30-20-10 guide can assist you in prioritizing tasks as you build your role as a stand-out CDO!