5 Things an Analytics Leader Must Do To Make Analysts Happy

bizanalystAnalysts are the lifeblood of a successful, data-driven company.  The analysts within your organization are usually the first to figure out if the company is on track or off track of the goals.  Their happiness can lead to early warnings and quick action to avoid pitfalls.  Their happiness can also help drive innovation and much needed change.

It is essential to keep your analysts happy.  Whether they are part of a corporate insights team, or are a line of business analyst with sales or marketing, there a few things a leader can do to help make them happy.

Trust & Enable, Don’t Dictate – The best leaders lead through influence and enablement, not micro management and total control.   Trust is one of the most important virtues of a team and is a true symbol of teamwork.  When a leader can let things go and let the judgment, experience, and knowledge of their analysts work, phenomenal things happen.

Celebrate Wins, big and small – Analysts have complex and very important roles in every organization. Analysts work hard, very often in sprints at quarter end and quarter begin. For this reason, take the time to help your analysts celebrate.  From cupcakes and beverages in a conference room, to an off-site cart race, let your analysts cut-loose and have fun.

Give Credit – Nothing makes an analyst more upset than another analyst or person taking credit for their work.  Just like recognition helps drive the morale of a sales rep, giving credit to your analyst when and where it counts is a simple act with profound effect.

Freestyle Project Time – Work hard, play hard.  Let your analysts take a few hours each week to work on something they want to related to work.  Whether they want to work on a new data model, an insights project, or attend an online, self service class, give them the time to do something they feel is important to their role.  A few hours each week to work on a project of their choosing enhances creativity and innovation.

Establish a Vision, But Seek Input – As all leaders are responsible for establishing a vision and trajectory for the team, this vision must be based on input from the team.  Allow the team to develop their own mission statement, their own framework, and be the guide to steer them toward corporate goals.   A vision developed by team input is unstoppable.

As an analytical leader, you have a responsibility to keep your analysts happy.  Happy analysts are key to driving data driven change in any organization.   Allow them to flourish, be creative, innovate and share their passion with the organization.

But wait, a sixth BONUS tip

Conference Budget – Allow your analysts to attend one or two conferences of their choosing every year.  Conferences are not only learning opportunities, but also incredible networking opportunities.  An analyst meeting another analyst is like a match made in heaven.  Let your analysts out of the office and share knowledge as much as possible.

Welcome 2017! My Three Focus Words

2016 is history.  Not the best year, not the worst year.  It was a year of change, strong opinions and shock.  From mass shootings to celebrity deaths to the election of Trump, it was a year we will all be talking about and trying to understand for decades to come.

It was also the year that I established myself in the Pacific Northwest.  It was the year I became a two car owner, a year in which I established my style and a year in which I learned about myself.  While I do not have a lot to brag about in terms of accomplishments, I can say I rode the tide, survived the year, and learned what is important to me.

As I look back on 2016 and dream about 2017 will bring me, I am filled with a bit of anxiety, hope, and inspiration.  Like a blank page in an artist’s sketchbook, the new year is a blank slate waiting to be filled with memories, transactions, people, ideas, and dreams.  It is more inspiring than anything.

Back in 2006, Chris Brogan began publishing 3 words to represent and guide him throughout the year.  This tradition is ten years old in 2016.  The idea, as described by Mr. Brogan:

Pick any three words that will guide you in the choices you intend to make for 2016. They should be words that let you challenge yourself as to motives and decisions. They should be words that help you guide your actions.-Chris Brogan

So, without further ado, here are my three words:  Connect, Learn, Build

Connect – connect is about connecting with the community around me, the people, the places, the events, and the technology.  Throughout 2017, I will be looking for opportunities to connect with everything around me.

Learn – While we are required to spend roughly 18 years in school before we are ready to participate in the world, the truth is life is one big school and you should never stop learning.  I am eleven years into a career in Analytics and I realize how fast technology changes.  I need to stay current on the tools.  I also want to set the foundation for grad school, so I have some studying to do for the GRE.

Build – This word has a few meanings to me.  First, I want to spend more time doing things with my hands, away from computer and not reliant upon technology.  From a hydroponics system to arts and crafts, I want to build. Second, build represents establishing a foundation for the latter half of my life.  I see myself undergoing a lot of personal change and 2017 is the year the foundation is built for that change.

What are you three words?  What’s your focus on 2017?

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!

Cheers!

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!).

The Best Hobbies

An interesting quote from Dr. Vogel on Dexter caught my mind recently.  They were referring to murder as a hobby when Dr Vogel said:

“The best hobbies take us furthest from our primary occupation.” – Dr Vogel, Dexter

If hobbies are at the opposite of our 9-5 jobs, then what does this mean?  As an Analyst with Marketing and Sales expertise, I spend my day job working with data, creating visualizations, and helping stakeholders understand the health of their business.   I bring to life the power of KPIs and creating conversation about the business through data.  Fascinating patterns and changes in trends spark the best conversations.

It is the more computer based hobbies I spend time on.  From flight simulator (FSX and X-Plane) to triathlon analysis, I do spend more time on the computer than sleeping.  Lately, I have split my time between BootStrap, a web authoring platform from Twitter, and analyzing the 2013 Santa Barbara Triathlon race results.

As a hobby, though, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer at home.  In fact, if Dr. Vogel is right, the best hobbies for me would not involve a computer at all and would focus on the physical as opposed to the virtual.   Interests of mine include art (sketching and watercolor), photography, gardening, triathlon, writing and music.   Interestingly, none of these hobbies are very frequent in my life other than triathlon training.

So, what’s the point of all of this?  Balance.  Dr. Vogel’s comment illustrates the need for moderation and balance in our lives.  Spending too much time behind the computer is not healthy.  So is spending too much time at work.   The balance involves leaving the computer behind after hours, heading outside and experiencing a wider variety of activities in life.   Hobbies are a way of expressing ourselves while relieving stress and spending time with like minded people.   Get as far away from your day job when not in the office as possible!