Lawrence Corr: Three things to be a great Agile BI teacher

by | Sep 12, 2016

Lawrence Corr in full swing at OptimalHQ, delivering Agile Data Warehouse Design.
This November we are hosting Lawrence Corr of DecisionOne for his three-day workshop on Agile Data Warehouse design. Lawrence first came to New Zealand in March of 2015 to teach the BEAM✲ methodology that he created with Jim Stagnitto to better gather data warehouse requirements. It goes without saying that we are big fans.
In this blog, I look back at what Shaun McGirr wrote in March last year just after the course. He talks about his time on the course with Lawrence and why Lawrence made the training such a valuable experience.
I have just spent three days with Lawrence Corr of DecisionOne. He was presenting his three-day workshop on Agile Data Warehouse design. I learned plenty about AgileBI, but just as much about being a great trainer.
So what makes for a great trainer, and how does the trainer make the training?

Passion for the subject

The most important quality in my book. Training that is just oratory will definitely engage the audience for an hour before they realise the act and lose interest. This is all the more crucial for training content that has a tendency to be dry, which quite frankly applies to data warehouse requirements. As Lawrence co-wrote the book on Agile Data Warehouse Design I never doubted he would bring it to life, but his passion for the material was infectious and unflagging across twenty classroom hours.


This is a close second to a passion for the subject. Especially for multi-day workshops, the person up front has to go well beyond “presenting well with enthusiasm”. They need to weave in anecdotes to bring life to the concepts covered, and those are best when they come from on-the-ground experience. This builds credibility with the audience and puts the trainer in a strong position to respond to all those left-field questions that come up during the day. Lawrence’s three-day course covers a lot of ground but leaves plenty of room for participant questions, which he could always answer from experience. His time working for Channel Four in the UK was particularly informative, but he has dozens more customers to draw on!

Knowing when to dive deep versus push on

This rounds out my take on the qualities of great trainers. Those who don’t understand this fine balance tend to waste time chasing down detailed answers to vague questions only one participant cares about. Or even worse, they brush past even the very well-formed, widely interesting questions in order to stay on top of the schedule. Given the scope of Lawrence’s book, there was always a possibility for either to happen, but we got to beer-o-clock on the last day having covered everything and in just the right amount of detail.
From my perspective as a participant in this workshop the trainer makes or breaks the training. Even if the content, room, and food are great you only have the conditions for success, but no guarantee.
Until next time, keep asking better questions.
Shaun – @shaunmcgirr
Shaun blogs about analytics, machine learning and how data solves problems in the real world. 
You can read Shaun’s original blog Don’t start your project with code or all of Shaun’s blogs here.
Lawrence Corr (@LawrenceCorr) and Jim Stagnitto (@JimStag) introduce the BEAM✲ methodology in their book Agile Data Warehouse Design: Collaborative Dimensional Modeling, from Whiteboard to Star Schema (AmazoneBook)
We run regular Defining Data Requirments courses, based on the BEAM✲ methodology, to bridge the technical-business divide when gathering data requirements or visit our Lawrence Corr page for more information and to register updates on the next time Lawrence is in New Zealand.



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