Over the past decade, the tools that let staff who aren’t coders transform and analyze data have gotten more and more powerful. But if an organization just rolls out these tools to lots of power users without having a broader strategy about how the pieces will fit together, you’re likely to create a hot mess.

Data Chefs is a framework for helping you tap the power of these tools in a way that’s scalable and sustainable by growing ecosystem of power users.

Data Chefs is a mashup of my decades of experience training, supporting, and nurturing power users plus the research I did for Makers All’s flagship report. In the report, I argue there’s a way for corporations and large nonprofits to design their tech training/retraining strategy so it also benefits marginalized communities:

Between waves of automation and waves of new tech, corporations are going to face a never-ending need to train and retrain their staff. Currently, most simply aren’t equipped to do so.

Staff in corporations and other large organizations don’t have the same needs as people in the community. But there are many areas where they may overlap. As communities are developing a rich ecosystem for their members, it may be worth exploring if there are ways to jointly address their needs.

But bridging the gap between corporations and communities can be pretty daunting. After talking with a lot of folks in tech companies and the community after I published the report, I realized that I needed to figure out shrink the gap.

At the same time, my sabbatical working on launching Makers All was coming to an end and I needed to find a job. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked for a job, and as I started working on cover letters and figuring out my shtick, I spent some time thinking about the work my team and I did when I was the Decision Support Services manager at ASHA, where we created an earlier version of Data Chefs, as well as some of my previous jobs.

What I realized was that if I focused on trying to help corporations and other large organizations get really good at supporting their power users, we could end up building ecosystems inside these organizations that could be bootstrapped into an ecosystem across organizations. And that would make the gap between companies and communities a lot more manageable.

I also realized that if you took a lot of the ideas I’d developed in the report and scaled them down, they’d make a great place to start growing thriving corporate ecosystems for power users. Add in my frustrations with how Agile software development gets talked about and rolled out in so many organizations, and voilà: Data Chefs!

On this website, I’ve pulled together an alpha version of Data Chfes (v0.2). In the next few months, I’ll use this blog to start fleshing it out. For the moment I’m not accepting comments on this blog – I need to figure out how to stop comment spam when using a GitHub Jekyll blog. But for now, if you have comments, criticisms, etc please reach me on twitter; I’m at @raschneiderman.

One final note. Although this approach to Data Chefs is pretty different from the original version we developed at ASHA, I wouldn’t have come up with it if it weren’t for that first version. So thanks, Ian and Morgana – it was such a pleasure working with and learning from you!