"I'm not here to teach you Alteryx"

by Chris Love

This week was my first week teaching at the Data School and having spent two days with the new recruits I thought it would  be worth reflecting on what we achieved and how we approached it.

My role as a coach at the School is mainly centered around teaching Alteryx and we have designed a number of sessions designed to ramp up their experience from beginner to advanced, and from data parsing and blending, through Spatial Analytics all the way to Predictive. The curriculum is a custom one designed especially for the Data School but taking a lot of the content and data we’ve built up through our Alteryx training with clients and via our free one-day sessions. Our first two days were designed around Data Preparation and Data Parsing, and alongside the lessons they’re putting they’re new skills into action by working on their weekly project.

Lesson #1: I’m not here to teach you Alteryx

This is the easiest thing to say and the hardest lesson to teach. I believe it is so easy for a new user of Alteryx to see it as software that needs to be learnt, front to back, tool by tool. My argument is that this isn’t how you use Alteryx.

A tool doesn’t solve your data problems, you do; Alteryx just makes it incredibly easy to implement your desired solution. Chris Love.

To get this across I made the students ignore the software for the first part of the day. Instead we simply solved problems using our heads, creating logical steps we’d use to solve the problem of restructuring the data.

Afterwards we thought of ways we could implement this using the data preparation tools in Alteryx….but still not in the software. These flash cards came in handy – I nearly bought string to connect them together but in the end we pinned them to the wall….



Finally, the easy part…implement the solution in Alteryx…..


Lesson #2: There’s no wrong answer

The students very quickly came up with new ways of solving the problem to hand and, with Head Coach Andy throwing in new curve-balls to improve the data we were preparing for Tableau, the lesson took on a very dynamic feel. Often we solved a problem on paper then found in reality we needed to switch the steps…the students soon got the hang of adding Browse tools and checking the logic and I’m sure after each exercise we ended up with several solutions in the room.


Lesson #3: Alteryx can do anything….

Breakthrough! The power of this incredible software started seeping through to the students and they were asking about all the possibilities, the sky is the limit!

Lesson #4: …but mostly simple is better.

Put on the brakes, get used to the software. Yes, you can implement a solution to automatically import those three files and cleanse them in a few tools….but it may be harder than simply copying and pasting the tools and having a neater, easier but more weighty solution. The complexity can come later…first just spend an extra minute implementing a simpler solution.

If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow. Beyonce Knowles.

Lesson #5: This is just the beginning!

I can’t wait to see what these guys produce, I’ve seen some great modules from them after just two days with the software and we’ve only used a fraction of the tools….














Chris Love

Sat 04 Jul 2015