Understanding Our Past: Support LIDAR Mapping at El Pilar

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, while I was attending University of California, Santa Barbara, I had the honor of working with Dr. Anabel Ford and her resilient crew on various projects surrounding the Maya site of El Pilar.   From archaeological excavation to mapping, to cutting trails, analyzing artifacts, and building predictive models, the time I spent on this project was phenomenal.

Recently posted on my Facebook page was a notification the Dr. Ford is undertaking a new project, mapping El Pilar with LIDAR to better understand Maya settlements beneath the thick rain forest canopy.  Please follow this link for more details.

Support the El Pilar LIDAR Mapping Project

They are currently seeking $2,700 in funding via Experiment.com, a crowdfunding platform for scientific research.  $2,700 is a bargain for the wealth of data and insight this team of researchers will acquire.  At 30% funded with 22 days left, let’s push it to 100% and beyond!


Top 5 Best Practices for Rolling Out Sales Rep Scorecards

Sales rep scorecards are that golden unicorn of any sales organization.  The scorecard is a compilation of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which are measured against thresholds.  In a rep scorecard, we see a visual interpretation of how a rep is doing for each of the KPIs. An example of which is below:

A Simple Sales Rep Scorecard with three KPIs

Sample Sales Rep Scorecard

Before I dive into best practices, a word on why not a lot of sales organizations have scorecards.  The primary reason is due to organizations struggling with data which best represents the business which makes it difficult for them to setup a KPI, let alone establish effective targets.   An understanding of the analytics continuum is also helpful for understanding the evolution of data practices which need to met prior to rolling out KPIs and Scorecards:

The Analytics Continuum: a blueprint for adoption

Top 5 Best Practices for Sales Rep Scorecards

  • Sales reps, Mangers, VPs, and CROs must all have agreement on the KPI definition, targets, and thresholds.  If one level of the KPI hierarchy is not on the same page as the others, there is very value in using the Scorecard to represent an ideal.
  • Targets and thresholds must be reasonable.  When rolling out KPIs, we often realize that actual performance is far from the corporate ideal. For instance, a Sales Cycle of 45 days is thought to be ideal, but the rep actual is north of 60 days.  Don’t hold this against them, consider rolling out a target of 55 and stepping the target down to 45 days within three quarters of launch.  Be kind to the reps and allow them to catch up.
  • Scorecards must be part of a larger sales communication strategy.  Rolling out a scorecard alone will have an impact on the organization, but the most impressive will happen if scorecards are a part of the larger communication strategy.  For instance, a weekly email can call out wins by reps, it should call out performance, and it needs to call out what needs to be done to hit the goal.  Scorecards are just one piece of the story in sales.
  • Scorecards need to be updated as the business evolves.  Scorecards can never be truly static, recurring reports.  Part of the role of your analytical team is maintain reports as the business changes and evolves.  Scorecards are no different.  From a subtle change of keeping thresholds and targets up to date, to swapping out KPIs for new ones, scorecards are a living animal and requires food to stay alive.
  •  Scorecards are a coaching opportunity, not a punishment tool.  While HR and managers will look at a scorecard and see a rep with all red for their KPIs, this doesn’t mean the rep needs to immediately be put on a performance improvement plan or, worse yet, fired.  Scorecards are coaching tool and enable the manager to work with the sales rep and ask questions like “why do you think your sales cycle is double the average?”  Work with the rep, train the rep, and allow the rep the chance to go for green.

As your team rolls out scorecards across the sales organization, keep these best practices in mind.  Be kind to your reps, get agreement on definition, use scorecards as part of a larger strategy, keep them updated, and use them as a coaching tool.

How a To Do List Alone Is Not Productive

Stress is at its highest when one is unprepared.  Managing tasks, putting out fires, and meeting deadlines is difficult without a proper task management solution.

Whether you use the latest smartphone app or just pen and paper, you probably have some form of reigning in all those tasks, big and small, you must get done. Each of these tasks is multi-dimensional in that each has a priority, an effort level, deadline, and could even be related to another task or appointment.   Managing these dimensions is the key to being proactive and productive.

The problem with the to do list, is just that, it is strictly a list.   Making a list of your to do items is critical, but it does not give you the ability to set priorities in a complete manner.  In fact, the longer the to do list, the more overwhelming and difficult to mange it will be.

The solution is pretty simple.  Of course you need a list of task items, but you need integrate both the priority and scheduling.  The easiest was to do this is to schedule them on your calendar just like you would schedule a meeting or doctor’s appointment.

Scheduling your tasks takes care of a few things in one shot:

  1. It automatically sets the priority relative to not only other tasks, but your appointments.
  2. It gives you a clear start time and end time to tackle the task.
  3. It allows you focus on the immediate tasks for the day without getting overwhelmed by seeing tasks for a week or month.
  4. It sets the amount of time you need and have available to complete the task.

Using your calendar, be it a Daily Planner or Outlook, to manage your tasks is a very efficient way to be productive.  By managing a list of tasks and taking the extra step of putting them on your calendar means you are serious about being proactive and productive.  Try it today!

Need a Sales Team Dashboard?

Monitoring your sales team is a major part of success.  Sales managers and executives need a simplified media to review key performance indicators KPIs to understand how their sales team is performing.

Such a simplified media is a dashboard style report which includes both charts and data tables which report KPIs pertinent to the business.   In a for profit business, typically revenue generation is at the top of the KPI list, followed by product performance, rep performance, and then rep productivity metrics.

Example Sales Team Management Dashboard

Spiral Analytics’ Example Sales Team Management Dashboard – Available for $5 through Fiverr

Since simple is good, Spiral Analytics, the name of my analytics solution company, is offering a gig through Fiverr.  The $5 Gig provides a basic template and setup for a sales team dashboard which follow the metrics above.  Additional charts and the ability to maintain the dashboard for you are available at additional charge.  For more information, check out the Gig below.

Spiral Analytics Sales Team Dashboard on Fiverr

A Universal Tool To Visualize Your Step Count

Wearable devices, steps, and data are exploding thanks to advances in technology, both hardware and software.  FitBit is to thank for creating an amazing buzz around the simple KPI of the “step”.  Each step is what it is, picking one foot up, moving forward and putting it back down.  The step represents the ultra-simplification of the fitness.  Just in time too.  America’s obesity problem is exploding too.

The Problem We Solved

Since FitBit came on the market, dozens of other fitness trackers have rushed to get their fair share of the wearable fitness market.  This means that you have to choose a flavor, a style, and stick with that platform while you achieve your goals.  The proprietary data visualizations do two things: 1) they hijack your data, making it difficult to get it back, which dissuades you from jumping to another platform, and 2) if you do change to another platform, you are forced to start from zero.  Not a good customer experience and few platforms seem to care about long-term archiving of your personal step data.

After trying different wearable devices and jumping from FitBit to Jawbone to Omron, back to FitBit, and currently, a wondeful Jawbone UP Move, I hate the fact that my data is spread across the cloud. This limits my ability to find long-term insights in my data which drive the necessary behavior change to improve my fitness. I also wanted to create an archive of my step data which I could refer back to regardless of the device I was using at the time. So, I decided to solve the issue and created a simplistic step data visualization tool with Microsoft Excel.

As Simple as It GetsTMX-Steps

Simplistic it is, yet it is a powerful tool full of insights.  Insights such as:

  1. The color coded calendar-like table is shaded by the hi and low step count for the month.
  2. It also shows your total monthly step count vs goal.  For comparison, you can view last month’s performance.
  3. Average Steps by Day of Week: Which is your best day? Which day of the week is your worst?
  4. Scroll through the year by month to see how seasonality changes your step data.

Entering data into the Steps Tracker Tool is simple too.  We didn’t add any API calls or database connections.  Nope, we simply added a table with space for the date, step count, and goal. Additional formulas exist on the table to make the whole thing work.  To add data, either type the data in or simply copy and paste the data from your wearable device’s propriety platform. While you might moan and groan at the prospect of using your keyboard to enter data rather than an automated API call, we know that typing in your data personally actually helps you relate better to your data and helps with the behavioral change to get fit.  Simple.

How Much Does It Cost

Right now, it costs $0.00.  Yep, the grand low price of FREE.  For the next seven days, you can download it free from this blog post.  After Oct 7, 2015 at midnight, this tool will only be offered through my fitness analytics company, TrainingMetrix, with registration.  Click here to download:TMX-Steps-Data-Tool-2015-0930 

Limited support is being offered by TrainingMetrix.  If you have any challenges, please contact support at trainingmetrix.com

Achieve Your Dreams One Step at a Time

A big part of achieving your dreams is self care.  Taking care of yourself through regular exercise, good nutrition, and spirituality is a great formula for life long happiness and making your dreams reality.  The TMX Steps Tool is a small part of that formula, but you have to take to the first step (pun intended!).

Your Online Identity is as Permanent as a Tattoo

The digital age is here and technology is increasingly finding new ways to improve, measure, and interact with our lives.  Can you remember what it was like to organize an event without Facebook?  Can you remember what it was like to mail real photos to your grandmother in the mail instead of online?  It gets harder and harder everyday.

The digital world is keeping track of us.  Facebook has admitted to tracking your browser history even when you are not logged into Facebook.  Google indexes every tweet, every public Facebook post and every photo it can find of you.  Yahoo!, AOL, and your ISP are all joining in.

Have you ever thought about what it take to delete that awkward photo of you taken at a party one night which a friend put on Facebook?  How about that not so nice tweet you accidentally said your mind in about your boss?  What we post online is as permanent as a tattoo.  Check out the TED Talk below for more: