Data Model Storytelling

Data Model Storytelling

Larry Burns, PACCAR

The problem with a lot of data models is that they tell us too much about not enough. They tell us things we don’t really need to know (yet) about how data will be instantiated, and not enough about the business problems the data is being designed to solve. Every data modeler knows how to create models that describe the structure of data and the relationships between data objects. All too few data modelers know how to use data models to surface business requirements, drive conversations around business processes, achieve consensus on solutions and enlist the support of stakeholders. This is the true value of data modeling!

In this session, we will introduce the concept of “data model storytelling”; that is, using data models to draw stakeholders together in a journey of discovery about business value. Topics for discussion will include:

  • What do stakeholders need out of a data model?
  • How do different stakeholders interact differently with data models?
  • What approaches to data modeling work best for different stakeholders with different needs?
  • What are the end goals, or “takeaways” of a data model?
  • How can we use data models to drive discussions, surface requirements, capture assumptions, achieve consensus and engage stakeholders?

About the Speaker

Larry Burns, a data management professional of long standing and a contributing author to DAMA International’s Data Management Body of Knowledge (DAMA-DMBOK) holds several advanced certifications in Toastmasters, the international public speaking organization. This session will apply many of the techniques used by professional speakers to the creation and use of data models. Larry Burns is the domain architect for Data and BI at a global Fortune 500 company, where he is involved in enterprise-level data modeling and BI development. He also teaches data management and database development to the company’s application developers. He was a contributor to DAMA International’s Data Management Body of Knowledge (DAMA-DMBOK), and a featured columnist for He was formerly an instructor and advisor in the certificate program for Data Resource Management at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is the author of Building the Agile Database and Growing Business Intelligence, both published by Technics Publications.