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Workshop session: What are the values of The Data Tank?

Gent, Belgium: June 21, 2023

Value-generating sessions at organizational retreats are sometimes sessions where one or the chosen few speak. There may be breakout sessions and fleeting open discussion, but often, the values have already been pre-determined. Like a parliament session of a less-than-democratic autocracy, a rubber stamp emerges. That, fortunately, wasn’t the case in Gent. In a session establishing the values of The Data Tank, there was frank and open discussion on what The Data Tank is and what we value not only as an organization, but as a collective team as well.

Core values are a tricky thing. Buzzwords like excellence, innovation, and collaboration are overstated and should be banned (aren’t we those things already?), and values like “fun” come off like a teenager trying too hard. More importantly, how does an organization that focuses on data re-use put the human back in data?

We love a listicle (a piece of writing or other content presented wholly or partly in the form of a list, and how else can you put so much information in such a short space?) here at The Data Tank. We established six core values:

1.    Putting people first

We believe that putting people first is essential to unlocking data’s potential. This means making sure that the needs and preferences of individuals are respected and upheld in all our activities. By putting people first, and ensuring their voices are heard and how their needs are met, we responsibly re-use data. The coming world of AI is frightening for some – will I lose my job? – but it could also be one of the greatest leaps humans might make. At The Data Tank, putting people first, acknowledging their needs and how we can best serve them isn’t just a vision—it must be our way of life.

2.    Embracing transparency

At The Data Tank, we embrace transparency because we believe that it’s essential to building trust with our partners and stakeholders. Our commitment to transparency helps to ensure that our activities are conducted responsibly and ethically.

3.    Striving for inclusivity

Inclusivity is nearly a no-no buzzword – it should be an automatic part of an organization. What matters is how we work and what we are doing to work towards inclusivity. We prioritize inclusivity in everything we do. This means we strive to create a culture of belonging where people feel valued and respected. We promote diversity in our workforce, partnerships, and programs. We prioritize diversity and inclusivity, which means that we promote a culture of belonging where people can thrive.

4.    Championing Internationalism

At The Data Tank, we know that data has no borders. This is why we are committed to fostering international partnerships and cooperation with local partners to unlock the potential of data. We know that by working together, we achieve greater things.

5.    Being Visionary

We are committed to being visionary because we know that the future of data is constantly evolving. We are always looking for new and innovative ways to gather, access, and re-use data in responsible and effective ways.

6.    Fostering Creativity

At The Data Tank, we believe that creativity is essential to unlocking data’s potential. This means encouraging our team to think differently and develop new and innovative ways to re-use data for the common good.

In conclusion, the session on establishing values at The Data Tank clarified what we are really are as an organization: PTIIVC. While the values didn’t create a clever acronym, they do something much more: focus on ethical considerations and the importance of aligning ourselves with organizational goals, gaining a deeper understanding of the role values play in decision-making and shaping The Data Tank. By addressing these aspects, the session empowers us to continue to make informed choices and foster a positive and ethical environment for all.

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