Archive for Analytical Mind

Failure Enables Success

The ASAE Technology Conference is next week and features of a tagline of “Revolution and Evolution”. These terms cover the concepts of both reward and failure. Speaking of failure! A fun part of the event is ASAE Fail Fest!

This session is a celebration of mistakes and mishaps, but most importantly recognizes that failure is a key part to innovation and improved growth. This particular session includes leadership who tell stories about how they have failed in the past but learned from their mistakes to create something even more innovative.

In the world of data-guided decisions, it is highly important to have the needed mindset, culture, and technology to accept failure as a possible outcome.

How did we get here?
Association customers over the past decade have a growing number of options and increased expectations. This means we must continuously innovate to remain competitive. However, we still often don’t take needed actions for fear of failing. Why? Because doing nothing is not generally viewed as an action with potential failure.
– People can get caught up in previous high-profile fails and allow these legacy events to impact innovation.
– Time spent planning and researching an approach is often viewed as more acceptable than actually trying the new approach.
– There can be a bias toward new and modern ideas, and away from things that might be tried and true.
– Perceived preferences of leadership can cloud judgement and make good ideas seem like non-starters.

So, how can we change this?
First and foremost, failing must be accepted and built into decision, innovation, and project processes. This is the process of trial and error. We learn from our mistakes to get to the best solution. Here are a few examples of a new value system to consider.
– Lack of trying taking risks should be viewed as missed opportunities!
– Encourage ideas to fail fast, as opposed to fear of admitting failure.
– Understand sunken cost vs future cost, meaning you should not continue something based on time and money spent in the past.
– Beware of the clichés. The idea that “the fee is the cure” implies that you should continue down a bad path based on sunken costs.
– Understand risk tolerance to ensure the cost of failures aligns with association time frames and resources.
– Communicate the cost to correct potential failures as this helps consider the benefits of opportunities.

Why are we so afraid to take the leap?
Like viewing no action as a potential fail, it is important to consider lost opportunity against the cost of failure. One example is the vital task of measuring the success of predictive analytics models.
We might have a model that estimates the propensity for individuals to attend an annual meeting along with segmentation for personalized marketing. Measuring the model requires a “holdout” group of individuals to not receive certain marketing efforts.
Since success is commonly measured by granular registration characteristics such as weeks out and registration type compared to prior years, it can be difficult for people to purposefully limit marketing. This is an important act that requires thinking in terms of broader, lost opportunities.

How does Association Analytics accommodate failure?
As a product-focused organization Association Analytics (A2) carefully balances accepting failure as part of our innovation mindset as well as mitigating it’s impact.

Examples of our own fails:

– When we first began using AWS Redshift, we were instructed by a person of perceived authority to load one record at a time using an API. This appears to be a modern approach as opposed to the seemingly legacy solution of moving around text files but loading text files in bulk is clearly the proper approach.
– It’s always ideal for analytics applications to interact with cached data optimized for performance. We’ve created data sets for high-transaction business events only to reach volume limits. We solved this by reworking the data set to leverage a hybrid approach of cached data and direct queries.
– We’ve used database drivers to accommodate performance, only to later discover limitations enforced by analytics tools. We had to rework solutions using a combination file edits and tedious client-based changes.
Mitigations that make something even better:
– Analytics solution. Analytic solutions are rapidly changing in terms on cost, features, and part of a broader ecosystem. We design our data architecture to be independent of analytic solutions to allow future portability.
– Data architecture. Data warehouse implementations can be costly and time-consuming when not based on industry-specific reference models, such as Acumen. Another solution is a “data lake” approach that makes rapidly available in rawer formats.     – Technology selection. Choosing a technology requires a balance between future features and current staff skills. We’ve selected our technologies, such as Python for various API integrations, based on future market direction and make hiring flexible and agile staff a priority.

Now, what can our leaders do to help?
As we’ve often said, people are more important than technology. Association leadership can enhance innovation by accepting fail in a variety of ways.

– Make failure part of the process. This demonstrates that failures should be managed and are acceptable.
– Think holistically and consider the collective association. Testing predictive models can harm attendance of a few events why significantly improving many others.
– Encourage prototyping and experimenting. The availability of cloud technology platforms makes this efficient.
– Celebrate and publicize failures. If someone takes an innovative course of action that is not successful, communicate that this is needed for innovation.
– Encourage questioning of real or perceived assumptions and bias. Staff might immediately dismiss ideas based on leadership views. Challenging these impressions should be welcome.
– Don’t extrapolate past failures. Understand that not all fails are the same and learn from the past without stifling innovation.
Associations should accept that failure in some respects is an option by not viewing it as an overwhelming tragedy and, of course, try to attend ASAE Fail Fest with us!

 

Matt Lesnak, VP of Product Development & Technology
Association Analytics

Data-Driven Decision Making

One of the most important things association leaders can do, in the next decade, is create a culture that embraces the analytical mindset. There are more decisions to be made and less time to make them. By understanding the stories in our data, we can make decisions to shape the future with confidence.

The analytical mindset is the ability to ask questions, communicate about data, and understand the context. This includes the business environment of processes, culture, tactics, and strategies. Recognizing that data is a business asset and not the sole domain of IT is the first step and creating a shared appreciation for the power to make good decisions faster with your team is the next.

Become a role model for effective data-guided decision making in your organization, the art and science of storytelling with data, and the tools associations can use today to create powerful visualizations for communicating internally with staff and leadership, as well as externally with members and prospects.

How to Get Started

A great place to start is to benchmark your organization, get recommendations, compare to peer groups, and share with your team. This Quick Online Assessment will allow you to do all of these things.

What is the Analytical Mindset?

The Analytic Mindset is a way of thinking that is revolutionizing the way associations scrutinize their data. Volume of data is one thing, but how you extract value from that data is proving to be much more significant. It drives an organization’s ability to illuminate the context in which their data is acquired, which in turn can optimize the processes, strategies, and tactics.

What to Measure for Maximum Impact

If you miss our keynote at GSAE Tech, we’d be happy to provide tips and resources to keep you moving forward. Nineteen years of working with your association peers has provided valuable perspective and benchmarking that we’d be happy to chat with you.

By applying the Analytic Mindset, you’ll  close the gap between informational volume and finding its actual value. It’s the key to making smart decisions that are not just data-driven, but driven by the most informed perspective on the right data. Examples of how ASAE leveraged data for measurable results are available here.

Lastly, keep these imperatives in mind:

• Assumptions should be questioned
• A picture is worth 1,000 words (or numbers)
• Anything (and we mean ANYTHING) is measurable
• Data should be accessible and understandable
• Insights should be actionable
• Actions should be monitored

 

Matt Lesnak, VP of Product Development & Technology
Association Analytics

 

 

Take the First Step on the Analytics Road – Join Us at PersoniFest

Serving up a concise yet comprehensive presentation on how to start shaping your organization’s analytics strategy, I will be taking the stage at PersoniFest in Austin, on Tuesday, April 10th at 9:30 a.m. CST. Co-presenters, sharing their valuable experiences, include Adam Rosenbaum, Director of Information Systems at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and Joel Loughman, Director of Association Management System Software at the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM).

Association Analytics pros will be the first to tell you that analytics itself is about so much more than just data volume or data access. As the amount of available information surges, and as the ways to scrutinize that information grows, it’s easy to think that sheer availability of data analytics is sufficient. But you don’t have to settle for that one-size-fits-all mindset!

In this breakthrough session, we will illuminate the initial steps your organization needs to take in order to develop an analytics vision tailored to its operational objectives. We’ll also spell out approaches to getting the most out of your integrated data — creating interactive visualizations that replace static spreadsheets and reports. We’ll make sure you come away with an unshakeable understanding that data is not simply meant to be collected and stored; it is meant to be analyzed and acted upon.

Here, you’ll learn how to use data to enhance member and customer experiences, improve operational efficiency, and optimize financial performance. We hope you can join us! Show up knowing where you are; we’ll make sure you leave understanding how to best use data to get where you want to go.

Hope to see you there. Register today – https://goo.gl/iXEh96

 

Revolutionize the Way Your Organization Scrutinizes Data

The Analytic Mindset is a way of thinking poised to revolutionize the way organizations scrutinize their data. Volume of data is one thing, but how you extract value from that data is proving to be much more significant. It drives an organization’s ability to illuminate the context in which their data is acquired, which in turn can optimize the processes, strategies, and tactics.

In our upcoming presentation, we’re going to take a detailed look at the remarkable acceleration of data acquisition — and how our traditional ability to evaluate data is proving to be inadequate. By applying the Analytic Mindset, however, we’re closing the gap between informational volume and finding its actual value. It’s the key to making smart decisions that are not just data-driven, but driven by the most informed perspective on the right data.

We urge you to join us at the ASAE Great Ideas Conference, where we’ll cover the imperatives of the Analytical Mindset:

• Assumptions should be questioned
• A picture is worth 1,000 words (or numbers)
• Anything (and we mean ANYTHING) is measurable
• Data should be accessible and understandable
• Insights should be actionable
• Actions should be monitored

Ready to learn more about the Analytic Mindset? We’ll see you in Colorado Springs this Sunday. https://goo.gl/t8PGPj

Your Association Needs An Analytics Translator

If you have a data analytics team or you are in the process of forming one, the analytics translator is a role to consider hiring for. This individual plays a critical role on that team and at your organization. She or he serves as the link between the analytics team and the executive team because this individual takes the information from the data team and translates it on a broader scope, so stakeholders can see how analytics impacts the organization.

Think of the analytics translator akin to a marketing operations manager at a B2B or B2C company. A marketing operations person is a subject matter expert on marketing technology solutions and typically works very closely with the executive teams. That individual also oversees the implementation of a marketing automation system, the data, and the processes to support the organization. A person in this role also works with the demand generation team to support any campaigns they want to execute and provides the metrics and reporting. She or he has both qualitative and analytical skills and possesses superb communication and project management skills to be successful in their role.

So, what does an analytics translator do then? According to Mckinesy and Company, someone in this role “communicates data science features and capabilities to internal and external stakeholders in order to identify business needs and uncover areas in need of deeper data exploration.”

Ideally, an analytics translator possesses the technical fluency in analytics, strong project management and communications skills, and a keen interest in staying current with industry trends.

Now you might be thinking that your data analytics team already has many of these skills, but the analytics translator is truly a unique role that an organization benefits from having. Here are 3 reasons your association needs to bring an analytics translator on staff.

1. Help demonstrate how analytics solves business problems

Analytics continues to play an instrumental role at organizations because it helps staff members make data-guided decisions to help them better align with their overall organization’s goals. Sometimes one person (such as a data analyst) alone cannot convince their executive board that a data analytics platform is a worthwhile investment. In some cases, it takes someone such as an analytics translator to convey the need to purchase an analytics tool because this person has the expertise to communicate how it can truly solve your organization’s challenges in an easy-to-understand way.

Let’s say your organization already has an analytics platform, but your organization’s stakeholders still don’t understand the value of it. That’s where an analytics translator can also help. An analytics translator is in a unique position where she or he can demonstrate the power of data analytics by identifying where it solves a business need. Once this individual discovers an area of opportunity, she or he works with the analytics team who then creates data models that show where the problem is and how best to resolve it. The translator might offer suggestions on adjusting the model so that it produces actionable insights that their executive team can easily interpret. Once the model is complete, this person ensures it’s the final product before delivering it over to the executive team to review.

2. Function as a Project Manager

One of the attributes an analytics translator must posses is excellent project manager skills. In the association world, this individual can operate as an “internal” project manager. She or he serves as a go-between the business leaders and the data analytics team ensuring that an analytics project is successfully executed from start to finish. This individual also can communicate the project’s progress in a digestible way to different team members at the company. If the stakeholders want changes to the project, then they work with the analytics translator who then relays those changes to the analytics team. The analytics translator helps to bridge that gap that exists between those who are a part of the data team and the executive team, so each side is better aligned with one another.

3. Assist in implementing solutions

An analytics translator serves as an advocate for adopting new solutions at your organization. One of the challenges your organization might face is some staff members hesitation in incorporating analytics into their roles. Shifting to a data-guided mindset is intimidating if your team isn’t accustomed to thinking in that manner. Also, sometimes company politics are a roadblock when attempting to implement a new tool or project across the organization. The analytics translator has the potential to champion the need to use analytics or needs to possess the grit to “fight” that battle because there will be people who are less enthusiastic to the notion.

If the resistance to adopt to new technology or start a new project exists in your organization, don’t feel as if you’re the only one experiencing that. It’s more common than you realize. That’s why it’s essential to have people such as an analytics translator to work as the driving force in implementing new solutions at your organization.

What if there’s budget constraints?

Even if an analytics translator isn’t a role you can fill at this time due to budget constraints, it’s a great position to keep in mind for the future. If hiring someone for that position isn’t possible though, then consider delegating the responsibilities to your data analytics team. It’s likely there’s someone on that team that possess some of these skills, so it’s just a matter of honing them and shifting their responsibilities around. Sometimes this is a better option because this person is already familiar with the company, processes, and data. And remember, an analytics translator doesn’t have to be a data scientist to be successful in this role.

Need help?

Contact us at info@AssociationAnalytics.com or (800) 920-9739 to explore if the Analytics Translator role is right for your association.

The Analytical Mindset and Association Leaders

Cultivating a data-guided culture (with an analytical mindset) is a challenge that you need to readily take on if you want your organization to remain relevant in the minds of your members and stay ahead in your respective industries. Those who choose not to embrace an analytical mindset will get left behind.

Right now, there is no better time than for your association to use data as an opportunity to grow your organization. Gone are the days you can simply use instinct, politics, and tradition to make decisions. You need to leverage your wisdom along with the data that is available to you.

To instill an analytical mindset across your organization, you need to take a step back and “begin with the end in mind.” What’s the end goal or desired outcome? Once you determine that, then you develop a plan to get there.

We’ll be expanding on the topic of cultivating an analytical mindset at Association’s Forum SmartTech Conference on Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 1:10 CST. This will be a great opportunity to pick up some actionable steps on how you can be a champion for embracing an analytical mindset across your organization.

Here are 3 ways you can shape the analytical mindset at your association.

1. Identify your organization’s current analytical mindset IQ.

One of the first things you need to do before promoting a data-guided culture is to evaluate your organization’s data maturity. There are different assessments out there, however, consider using one that’s more tailored towards associations. The Data Analytics Maturity Model (DAMM) is designed by associations leaders for associations to assess where they land in the model and to offer ideas on how to develop their own action plan. There are 5 stages in the DAMM model: Learning, Planning, Building, Applying and Leading. Let’s say your organization falls into Stage 2, which is Planning. Your team is aware of the ramifications in not having an effective data analytics strategy. Your data is living in the AMS, but it’s possible that some team members don’t even know where to find the data or what they need to extract from it. Another key indicator in this stage is that there’s a lack of trust in the accuracy of the data. It’s possible there are several different data source points, but it’s hard to know what’s correct because there’s no data governance program in place. All hope isn’t lost though. If you recognize the costs of not having a data strategy and can get staff members who value data involved with your cultural initiative, then you’re already on the right track.

2. Form a data analytics team.

A data analytics team is essential if you want to spread the idea of adopting an analytical mindset across the organization. This team will also play a fundamental role in driving your data analytics strategy and ensuring it aligns with your association’s overall strategic plan. Before you hire a team though, you will need to identify how this team will function and how they will proactively use analytics to transform the culture and business.

Your data analytics team can encompass some of the following positions: Data Analyst, Chief Data Officer, and a Database Developer. Of course, some roles can be a blending of different positions depending on your organization’s needs and budget for hiring additional team members. Ideally, there should already be a business executive who sees data as a corporate asset and possesses analytical qualities. That individual can be a champion for creating a data analytics team. With this individual and a data analytics team in place, you can demonstrate the value in investing in data analytics and the need to begin a cultural shift. And here’s another approach this team can take: Tie it back to the bottom line. That is a compelling way to get team members’ attentions since everyone contributes to that in some capacity.

 

 

3. Lead the change management process.

One of the biggest obstacles you’ll face when shaping an analytical mindset among your staff is the staff itself. Many people don’t instantly welcome change. It takes a significant amount of energy for people to alter the way they do things even if their current routine is inefficient. Change is a tough concept to embrace! There are ways to work around that though. You will need to integrate some change management principles into your organization. The three fundamentals of change management are educate, incent, and orchestrate. The other mantra you can follow is the head, heart, and herd approach as discussed in the book “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” by Chip and Dan Heath.

Here’s how you can handle each stage:

Educate: Rather than simply issuing a mandate that everyone needs to adopt an analytical mindset, it’s better to start with educating your staff as to why it’s in the best interest of everyone to take a data-guided approach. Explain the rationale behind it and demonstrate how their jobs will change for the better. Be transparent rather than secretive. Show how it affects the bottom line.

Incent: You will need to consider the “what’s in it for me” mindset that your team has. It’s perfectly normal to have that thought. Asking people to deviate from what’s familiar without offering up something that makes the change worthwhile will make them more resistant to the idea. What constitutes as a strong incentive varies, but keep in mind it’s not always about the money.

Orchestrate: You will need to establish processes and routines to change your team’s habits and overall company culture. When everyone follows the new routines and processes, then others will emulate that behavior. It takes time for new habits to develop and become ingrained, but eventually that’s how a new culture will form.

When you instill an analytical mindset across your organization, teams will be more inclined to use data to guide their strategies because it is the new normal. People will exhibit confidence when using it and combine that with their instinct to make decisions. Keep in mind though, data isn’t the actual driver. It’s there to support and assist your team, and it’s the people who are the real driving force.

Are you planning to attend the SmartTech Conference? Our discussion at this conference contains an in-depth look at adopting the analytical mindset. Register online!

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