Be an Analytics Change Agent in 2014

  |  January 2, 2014   |  Comments

Stop being that annoying, buzzing insect in 2014 and commit to becoming a Change Agent instead. Columnist Jim Sterne offers tips on earning buy-in.

Data? Check.

Technology? Check.

Insights? Not on demand, but... Check!

So why don't they heed your calculated, weighted, computed advice?

"Listen, we ran the numbers and we really should be doing X."

"OK, thanks."

"No, really. We really should."

"Yeah, got it. Thanks."

And then... nothing.


Because you just suggested that Ms. Decision Maker should definitely have the chicken salad for lunch.

shutterstock-72983548You're an analyst, not a dietician. You don't know that she had chicken for dinner last night and had to eat chicken salad sandwiches every day as a child. You don't know that her boss once almost choked to death on a chicken bone. You don't know that the IT liaison to the marketing department, who always wears a chicken suit to costume parties, is at the next table and will give Ms. Decision Maker no end of grief if she orders chicken. These things are not in your data.

The problem is further compounded when she ignores your passion. You try to explain, but she looks at you as if you were describing, in gruesome detail, your strenuous struggles with massive astrological charts and, while the earlier vitaspheres do not always line up properly with modern cosmographic depictions of the celestial sphere, the decision maker in question should definitely have the chicken salad for lunch.

Your recommendation is dismissed as quickly as relationship advice from the guy sitting next to you in a bar... in an airport... in a snow storm... after the third Manhattan.

Stop being that annoying, buzzing insect in 2014 and commit to becoming a Change Agent instead. If you're working your brains into mush every day but nobody in your organization is listening, there are two possibilities:

a) You're in the wrong organization, or
b) You're doing it wrong.

Do you really want to be a change agent? Then pack your bags.

A change agent is a person who believes so strongly that they are right about how the company should operate that they are willing to put everything on the line to make it happen - up to and including their job. If this company cannot see the light, then you probably don't want to work there anymore.

However, bluster and pleading are not the way.

Nor is straight-up, irrefutable logic. You need to be a bit of a salesperson, as well. Enthusiasm, vision and explaining the sizzle are part of the job -- as is the well thought-out plan.

shutterstock-130283897Imagine yourself in that seat of power. If someone comes to you with what they perceive is a serious problem or opportunity, along with some very serious enthusiasm that cannot be squelched then -- yes -- they are a pest. However, if they come to you with a serious problem or opportunity, and some serious enthusiasm along with a fully-baked plan for solving it or taking advantage of it then you would welcome them with open arms.

Be not afraid. Be irrefutable. Be bold. Do your homework so you know the goals of the organization at that very moment. Do your homework so you know the goals of the people you are trying to convince. Do your homework so you know the risks you are asking people to take and devise strategies for mitigating that risk. (Think testing!)

However, if you cannot show small wins in order to get buy-in for bigger efforts; if you cannot get people to experiment based on predictive analytics; if you cannot get people to give up their ego centric, always-gone-by-the-gut/instinct self-love, then maybe this company just isn't for you.

Without a serious, data-loving culture, you might simply be better off taking a job elsewhere.

But first, you really should have the chicken salad. After all, the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter is starting to align with Mars.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne is an international consultant who focuses on measuring the value of the Web as a medium for creating and strengthening customer relationships. Sterne has written eight books on using the Internet for marketing, is the founding president and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association and produces the eMetrics Summit and the Media Analytics Summit.

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