As a Director at Fitzgerald Analytics (FA), I help clients unlock value from intangible assets including customers, marketing campaigns, technology investments, and brands. I’m especially interested in unlocking the potential value of intangible assets and fascinated by the universal possibilities of business intelligence.
- Beginning With the End in Mind: Originally popularized by Stephan Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” this could be the one most valuable techniques that I have solidified in the last two years. The reason being, if you keep this in mind all other techniques and tools fall into place. It is enormously powerful to start a venture by clear goal definition. When you take that time to take a step back, new problems, context or even solutions appear that you would not have considered if you just went ahead and got started. Often, these new things that you take into account by taking a step back end up making or breaking the project. (Related to this is my post on jumping right into it.)
- Clear Communication: At the risk of exaggerating I would venture that 90% of disagreements come from miscommunication. At the root of every argument are two opposing assumptions that a buried so deeply that the two sides don’t even realize that what they actually disagree on isn’t even being discussed. It’s imperative to structure communication (written or verbal) in a clear, concise, logically way so that the full intended meaning is transferred in the least amount of time possible.
- Transparency: Closely related to Clear Communication but worth breaking it out into its own section as transparency can make your life infinitely easier. The tempting reason for either hiding information or withholding until a later date is to gain an advantage in the short term. In practice, I find that in the long term this sort of behavior has significant downsides associated with it that far out way the short term benefits. Although the initial conversation may be hard, without exception I always find that putting all the facts on the table allows both parties to collaborate on how to best resolve the issue, creates mutual trust that can be drawn upon at a later date and will result in a mutually beneficial solution. Not to mention the added peace of mind that allows you to focus on your next task without distracting worry (which can be a very powerful driver of poor performance, fear is never good).
- Holistic Value: While completing projects at FA I am constantly reminded that the holistic concept of value trumps any one metric. Every project we work on ends up generating not just the originally intended goals but also important discoveries are made that could have never been predicted at the beginning. This experience easily translated to seeing how in our world today we must strive to create holistic value, not just wealth.
- Causal Modeling: I wish I had learned about Causal Modeling’s in kindergarten. Every problem becomes infinitely easier to understand when laid out in a causal map. Instead of trying to juggle cumbersome concepts in the mind, you can see your goal and then each pre-requisite for it branching away from the goal in steadily more and more detailed concepts. When such a complex model can be laid out so simply on a page, it become easy to identify points of opportunity for improvement and to make the system more efficient.
- Project Planning Through Envisioning: Of all the more generic skills to learn, project planning is often undervalued. Luckily, in my time at FA I have had an enormous exposure to how putting together just a simple plan for how to accomplish a goal ahead of time can same vast amounts of time. The easiest way to plan a project? Imagine completing it step by step. By visualizing it you will remember things that you could have easily forgotten. For example, if you imagine getting dressed to go skiing it is much less likely that you will forget to pack your neck warmer than if you imagine skiing without a neck warmer (Cold!). The same process works for much more complex projects.
- Data to Dollars™: One slightly unexpected benefit (in that not all consulting firms have a strong methodology) of working at FA for the past two years is that I’ve been exposed to the methodology that Jaime Fitzgerald (the founding partner of Fitzgerald Analytics) has developed over the past 8 years. It is a powerful way to bridge data analytics and business goals. Instead of getting bogged down in the details of analysis, using the Data to Dollars™ Value Chain allows you to easily go from your goals to the analysis required to the people process and tools required ensuring that instead of “seeing whats in the data” you can have a clear path to execution and benefit. Jaime is writing a book about this methodology which you an find out more about here.
I’m sure I’ve missed much of what I’ve learned in the past two years but I hope to use this list to remind myself of all the progress that I have made and the new ideas that I am party to. I will continue to update it as I become more clear on what the most important aspects of my work at FA are.