Immersion, The Good, Bad and the Ugly!

Immersion is the concept of surrounding yourself with a given subject to concentrate on learning it.

The GOOD
The good is that immersion is a very efficient way of learning something. You can jam pack a lot of information in a very narrow window of time. Picking up the basics of a new language or skill is possible over a long weekend.

The BAD
Immersion usually occurs for a limited time. From a day to a few weeks, immersion is not something that you want to do for long. The learner risks burn-out as the human body needs to time break old habits and adjust to the new knowledge.

The UGLY
Immersion can overwhelm the learner. In such a short time, a lot of information gets thrown at you. While it is important to absorb as much information as possible, sometimes grasping the larger picture and concepts is all you can do.

My weekend at the Total Immersion swim clinic was definitely, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
1) It was good because I made huge improvements with my swim stroke.
2) It was bad because it was so short and I wish I had a little more than two days to grab all the information and absorb more detail.
3) It was ugly, by the end of the second day, my brain was so overwhelmed with information that it was almost exploded.

Have you ever tried immersion and experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly?

What Do You Know When You Don’t?

Knowing something is half the battle. Communicating that something is the other half, but that is the subject of another post.

Knowing how your customers use your product and how they want to interact with you is a great thing. Two major steps toward becoming customer oriented.

But then you realize that what you know, might not be what you know. You see signs that your data may be incomplete or inaccurately measured. What do you know now?

1) You need to stop and reevaluate what you know.
2) Depending on the issue, you might be realizing that what you know, might be valid to some degree.
3) On the other-hand, you might be realizing that an entire rebuild of the data warehouse is in order.
4) You start making a mind map of the situation to visualize the scope of the problem.
5) You start counting the knowns, the unknowns, the could-be’s and the what-if’s.
6) You then start to think that maybe if you ignore it, it might, with a one in a trillion change, actually fix itself.

Then you realize you just reconstructed the famous Donald Rumsfeld speech:
“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” – Donald Rumsfeld (more Rumsfeld quotes)

In the end you may know much more than when you started. But the process of determining what you don’t know and what you do know is a great one! It is called validation.

Everyone should have a process of validation.

Confidence In Metrics

Metrics are the individual numbers that relate to other numbers that tell a story. Often, these are the numbers that people of all levels of the company use to make decisions.

If a company has a firm grasp of their metrics, fully understand their engine, and have reporting in the right places, there can be some pretty impressive looking dashboards available that tell the health of business at a glance.

However, those fabulous looking metrics and dashboards might be completely meaningless if the there is a broken link between the customer touch point and the data server.  As companies grow, data grows exponentially and marketing landing pages pile up on the server, there is more and more potential for something to break.  Undetected breakage can kill a company!

The best way to resolve this is to assume that the entire system is broken and one must test, test, and test again.  Keeping records at the major data transfer points is one way to keep track of records dropping out and why.  Doing routine quality checks on the data is also a way to keep confidence levels up.

Knowing the data, the trends, and the engine is a great way to detect breakage.  If sales from search take a dive and they have been consistent for the past three years, maybe something broke… maybe your campaigns need a refresh.  A good analyst usually has great instinct on the issues.

Patience in drilling down, slicing and dicing, and becoming intiment with your data is the only way to understand it, make sure it works, and that the story is non-fiction as opposed to some strange, poorly written fiction novel.

How confident are you in your metrics? Is it fiction or non-fiction?