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Reducing cognitive load

·2 mins

I wrote yesterday about how by promoting autonomy we can empower the users of our data platform to take on more ownership and responsibility. But if you took that message to the extreme, you wouldn’t build a data platform at all! You’d just leave them to it, to make all the decisions on how they should generate, process and consume data.

Clearly that’s not going to be effective. That’s why another one of my favourite words (or in this case, phrase) I keep in mind when thinking about providing our data platforms products is cognitive load.

As a platform team it’s our job to reduce the cognitive load of our users. This means providing them with the tools and infrastructure that gives the users everything they need to do their best work. You’re reducing the things they need to think about so they can focus on what they do best.

A small example might be automating the backups of their database. You provide tooling that ensures they are taken regularly, tested regularly, and follow your retention policies. That’s now one thing they never need to think about, freeing up their head space to focus on their goals.

I first came across this phrase in the excellent Team Topologies book (Amazon), which is well worth reading if you’re building a data platform.

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    Andrew Jones
    Andrew Jones