Data Mesh Accelerate Workshop

Any organization hoping to survive in a technological, globalized
world has to effectively work with data. With 97% of organizations
investing in big data and
, the need to
effectively manage this data is more critical than ever. Data Mesh
helps companies to generate valuable insights and live up to the
promise of becoming data driven organizations.

The Data Mesh paradigm is founded on
four principles:

  • domain-oriented decentralization of data ownership
    and architecture
  • domain-oriented data served as a product
  • self-serve data infrastructure as a platform to enable autonomous,
    domain-oriented data teams
  • federated governance to enable
    ecosystems and interoperability

Data mesh is a decentralized socio-technical approach to remove the
dichotomy of analytical data and business operation. Unfortunately, as
with many socio-technical approaches, many organisations struggle to align
on the goals and strategy that is really needed to make a data mesh
transformation a success. The transformation to a data mesh is hard. It
represents a paradigm shift in how teams are organized, how work is
prioritised and how to apply the newest data related technology advances.
This is a wide reaching change that impacts people across the whole

We have been part of several Data Mesh transformations, across a wide
variety of organizations. We have also exchanged and learned from
Thoughtworkers around the world who have been involved in many more.

We have seen two common challenges facing Data Mesh transformations:
technology focused and big design upfront.

In one approach, teams start building data products without aligning
their work with higher level goals
. This approach (technology focused) is
based on a genuine thinking that Data Mesh is all about technologists and
new ways of collecting, transforming and serving data. The main goal of
Data Mesh is to unlock the value of data at scale, and while technology
is a key part of this, alignment with business goals is critical for

To start from the technical side without being very aligned with the
business strategic goals is like packing for a holiday without knowing
where you are going. Don´t do it. Make sure there is an initial alignment
before starting the journey.

Another common approach is to do a deep dive analysis before starting
with Data Mesh implementation
. This is Big Design Up Front, with long
periods for analysis and design, often a few months. The result: lots of
diagrams and plans for the path going forward.

Diagrams and plans are great, but the value comes from making them
real and delivering value to the users and the business. A key concept of
Data mesh is product thinking, where we incrementally evolve our products
based on user needs and real usage. Our approach to the data mesh
transformation as a whole also needs to follow this evolutionary
approach, with short feedback loops.

The Data Mesh Accelerate Workshop

At Thoughtworks, our response has been a process called Data Mesh
Accelerate. We have put together a good sequence of activities to set an
initial direction, to build understanding and to create strategic
alignment. It provides enough initial analysis and design to get started,
and a good balance between technology and business alignment.

The Data Mesh Accelerate workshop provides a series of activities
focusing on collaboration, the capture of the current state and the
mapping of aspirations. The main goal is to build the initial alignment
across stakeholders, to understand what kind of Data Mesh outcomes the
group is aiming at, and explore the process for identifying, designing
and building data products.

Leaving the workshop, stakeholders should have a shared understanding
of Data Mesh concepts, what the journey ahead looks like and alignment on
the next steps. The Data mesh workshop represents the first step on an
organization’s data mesh transformation, and while there are many steps
ahead, we have found that taking the time to make the first step
successful, pays off massively for the journey ahead.

Where the accelerate workshop fits in

The Data Mesh Accelerate Workshop is one part of a data mesh
. To kick off a data mesh transformation you start by
selecting an appropriate domain to work with, then you go from the
vision to the use case (accelerate), then you identify the data
products, platform and organizational changes needed to support that use
case (discovery and inception) before actually building the data
products and adding them to the data mesh.

The Data Mesh Accelerate workshop fits in when you have got the domain
stakeholders (business and technical people) interested and available
for a few hours to kick start a successful Data Mesh transformation.
It provides the means to get everyone aligned on the initial path.

Prep work

Facilitating any workshop, let alone a multi-day workshop like Data
Mesh Accelerate, requires preparation to make it a successful
experience. The sub-sections below explore what you need to do before
the day of the workshop.

Materials, tools and logistics

At the most basic level you will need to arrange the material and
tools (or their digital equivalents) and logistics required for the

  • Gather Post-Its and pens
  • Prepare collaboration boards (see below)
  • Give access to the needed tools (video-conferencing, online boards
  • Book a room and time in the participants calendars

Preparing the audience

Along with understanding what the workshop is about, each
participant needs to know what is expected from them. It is your job to
help clarify it as well as to make sure the right people are invited to
the workshop.

You should communicate the goal of the workshop and where it fits
with the context of the group going through it and the organization.
You have to put it in context on what has happened before and what will
happen after it. You can achieve this in several different ways:

  • Send a short introductory email
  • Share a explanatory video
  • Schedule a conference call
  • Share a link to this article and to Zhamak’s
  • Schedule one-on-ones with participants

Besides preparing the audience, you will be gaining an insight into
how technically skilled and familiar with data mesh the participants
are. This will also help you adapt the content to their specific

Agenda management

Every workshop needs an agenda. Clarifying the agenda and inviting
people well in advance will help put your participants at ease and help
them find times in their busy schedules.

In the next section is a typical agenda we have been using. We
recommend you start from there and adjust it according to your specific
context and needs.

Preparing specific activities

Each activity needs a working area with its instructions. These are
described in the next section. But it is your job to prepare these
areas for your workshop. In a face to face setting, you might prepare a
few flipcharts, while if you are remote, you will arrange the template
on your collaboration tool of choice. We describe the activities in
terms of their outcomes and their step-by-step, leaving you to adapt to
your specific context and setting.

Please find below a sample agenda and the explanation for each of
the activities.

Here is a link to a MURAL template
following the above agenda.

The sample agenda lays the workshop out as four afternoons. We typically
go with such an agenda when running the workshop remotely. It avoids
videoconferencing fatigue and makes it easier for participants to fit it in
their busy agendas.

Whenever we run this workshop in person we do it in two consecutive days.
We reserve a good conference room and fill the boards and walls with many
post-is as we go through the activities.

We’re releasing this article in installments. Future installments will

go through a sample agenda and details of the various activities in the workshop.

To find out when we publish the next installment subscribe to:

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