DataCite Team Retreat 2024 – Cooking and Collaboration

‘If you want to create good and tasty food, then you must have love and respect for the person who will consume it’. This was the key message that the DataCite Team was taught when learning to cook Moroccan food at our recent retreat, and one that is pertinent to not only serving guests in your home but also for DataCite when developing services for the community.

Appetizer 🥗

It is that time of year again already! On the week starting 13 May, the DataCite Team convened in Marrakech, Morocco for our 2024 Team Retreat. DataCite is a fully remote organization, and these annual get-togethers are an opportunity for our 27 team members spread across 14 countries (and speaking more than 20 languages) to interact in person and work on issues that require in-depth brainstorming or that are a bit more hands-on. Moreover, meeting colleagues face-to-face helps the DataCite team to forge bonds in a way that online meetings never allow.

Main Course 🍲

The ‘meat’ of the retreat took place on the Tuesday and Thursday, which were dedicated to strategic sessions involving all team members. After whetting our appetites with the ‘Spaghetti Tower Marshmallow Challenge’, the team reflected on DataCite’s current outlook and metrics, and took time for some blue-sky thinking on what DataCite could provide to the community in the coming years.

With metadata quality and completeness as the core theme of DataCite’s vision this year, the team thought about

  • What the challenges are for our different stakeholder groups to enhance metadata quality throughout the lifecycle of a research output.
  • What opportunities different DataCite teams have to work with our community to help enhance metadata quality and culture change.

In a session focusing on Make Data Count, Tuesday also saw us strategizing on how the DataCite team can support the major use cases of the Data Citation Corpus.

Thursday started with a treasure hunt: likening the DataCite’s metadata holdings to a trove of previous jewels waiting to be discovered. The team was split into groups and asked to undertake a product strategy pitch of new DataCite services that aid the discovery and reuse of DataCite metadata. It was a nice surprise to see convergence among the ideas, showing a level of harmony within the thinking of the team. We then ended with a discussion around DataCite’s messaging and positioning strategies, including continuing to ensure we remain relevant and important to our community.

‘Side dishes’ happened on Wednesday, which was dedicated to matters directly relevant to different DataCite teams. The Engineering and Engagement teams separately organized their own interactive breakouts to focus on group tasks that would take longer, or be more difficult, in a virtual environment. The Engagement team spent time examining in terms of its functional units—Adoption, Membership, and Outreach—the status of its objectives and key results for 2024 that will keep DataCite on track with its annual vision. Beyond this, the team discussed updates to the DataCite brochure and outreach messaging to continue to grow our community.

Two people presenting a product strategy exercise, pointing at a large paper pad with written content. Slides projected on screen in the background.
A group of people seated at tables in a conference room, attentively listening to a presentation projected on a screen at the front.

The Engineering team’s focus was around ensuring the long-term robustness of DataCite’s product services, in addition to technology roadmap considerations in relation to the DataCite vision and our projects. The team examined our current processes and technologies, and what enhancement opportunities exist: identifying near-term action points to rollout and areas to explore stability improvements over the coming years.

Des(s)ert 🍮

While there is always a lot of serious work to be done during our team retreats, we also make time for team bonding through some fun activities. This year was no different, with the team enjoying a ‘Moroccan Cooking Extravaganza’ and a tour of the museums, gardens, and markets of Marrakech’s old town (the medina, a World Heritage Site).

A group of people smiling and waving in a lively outdoor market setting.
A bustling market street with people walking and various colorful products displayed in stalls. The ceiling is decorated with ornate wooden panels.

The group cookery course was a particular highlight of the retreat. Over traditional, freshly prepared mint tea and flatbreads, the team learned about the importance in Moroccan culture of welcoming visitors. We then cooked our own dinner of tajines and salads. It was a great way for the team to work together and enjoy the fruits (and chicken and vegetables!) of our labour.

Demitasse/Cafe Noir ☕

As always, all team members expressed their gratitude at being able to get together and meet in person, and valued the opportunity to have broader strategic discussions. There are, of course, lots of follow-up actions that are now needed, and you will surely see the results of these in future blogs and webinars. Throughout all of these actions, we will continue to make sure we have the finest ingredients needed to serve the community our gourmet offerings.