helping you master the people side of data & analytics

Looking forward at this time of year

Russian icon of the Theophany (wikipedia)
Russian icon of the Theophany (wikipedia)

Well here we are on the fourth day of Christmas, so I hope those calling birds have arrived!

If you’re like me, right now you are probably feeling a mixture of awareness that the over-indulgence over recent days needs to end soon and excitement at the prospect of a fresh start in the New Year.

It can be a very peaceful and productive couple of days between the celebrations.


I don’t know about you, but traditionally this is a time when I tend to reflect on how I’m doing against my life priorities and consider setting goals. This year I’ve been nudged in that direction by a vodcast from Jeff Walker, a timely reminder of how we can spend this time productively:

As a trained executive coach, I fully endorse the power of goal setting. But I would also recommend taking that time out first to reflect on “why” you want to set that goal in particular roles within your life. A structured questioning session can help you do this, ideally using an appropriate coach for you, but this can be a useful practice by yourself.

The G.R.O.W. model is a well practiced simple framework for such a review, to help you set goals. Try these questions as an example on a role in your life:


6 ways to succeed at Recruiting and Retaining Analytical talent

analytical talent

The well trailed difficulties in recruiting data scientists or other analytical roles, followed by the equivalent challenge in retaining them long enough to recoup your investment, have been likened to ‘talent wars’.

There are hotspots around the UK, but it seems all areas to some extent share this experience. London is perhaps the most challenging place to retain your talent, but there is more on the market (in amongst the charlatans & just plain deluded).

In my own experience, it has been easier to recruit in South Wales & Bristol (the latter being particularly good for having a pool of analytical talent), whilst much harder in Bournemouth & Edinburgh for example.


Motor Insurers’ Digital Marketing Effectiveness

insurance disclaimer
andrew steinmetz (flickr)

A new type of ‘other post. Given the number of our readers who work within the Insurance sector, I thought it might be helpful to share the results which Global Reviews shared with me, from their Digital Marketing Effectiveness Study (Q3 2014) of UK Motor Insurance providers.

There are some interesting lessons for customer insight leaders from other sectors as well, when you reflect on the key findings into consumer behaviour.

Here are the highlights:

  1. One third of consumers decide, which car insurance provider to go with, via a comparison website

While 92% of UK consumers will use a search engine at some stage of the pathway to purchase motor insurance, 87% actually start the journey there. 30% then move to the brand website, however almost half go to a comparison or aggregator site. 29% are then making the decision to purchase and stopping their journey on the aggregator site. A further 9% of those who visit provider’s site are going back to aggregator sites. (more…)

Celebrate the Health Survey for England 2013

bathroom scalesOver the last couple of days there has been plenty of media coverage as to what the results of this health survey mean. The BBC in particular has debated whether it shows ‘more pill popping’ as a poor substitute for healthier lifestyles, or more ‘treatment where needed’ to prevent more serious conditions.

However, from a Customer Insight perspective, there is something else to celebrate here. That is the continued existence of a large quant longitudinal study of the type that does not happen elsewhere in Europe. A survey that interviews nearly 9,000 adults and over 2,000 children is not to be taken for granted by any business. Couple that with capture of consistent variables (in addition to topical ones) over 23 years, and you have a serious contribution to research evidence in the UK. An interesting throw away remark on Radio 4 yesterday was that the UK is often criticised as the ‘fat man’ of Europe, sometimes on the basis of the weight measurements taken in this survey, however at least for the UK we know the data. Such consistent record keeping of population height & weight does not exist elsewhere in Europe.


How to play to your strengths this year

StrengthsFinder-2.0This book is more of a resource toolkit than a narrative read, but it is one that I’ve found useful for my own development & when coaching clients.

It’s a book for which you’ll want your own copy, not just because you want to make notes & complete the cover with your top 5 strengths, but also because each book has a unique code for you to use to complete an online ‘strengths finder’  test.

That test is grounded in the Positive Psychology movement and in fact this pocket-sized book is dedicated to the ‘father of strengths psychology’ Dr Donald Clifton. The first 30 pages of the book explains the benefits of focussing on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. I have seen this in true with many coaching clients. Too many leaders in business are encouraged to flagellate themselves about perceived weaknesses or have to focus on developing areas where they don’t have natural strengths.

This can be self-defeating for two reasons: first, it often fails – you are asking the person to ‘swim upstream’ against their natural personality which is rarely sustainable; second, that it means people assume they have to be like others in the organisation & so often neglect playing to their natural strengths where they could really excel. (more…)

How to choose the coach who will help you grow as a leader

choose the coach

The Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) recently published a report entitled “Coaching for Success: The key ingredients for coaching delivery & coach recruitment”. There’s plenty of interesting snippets of research findings and practical advice t help you choose the coach.

If you have the time, it is well worth a read, but the points which caught my eye were a 3 stage process for coach selection. Following on from some of the concerns I expressed in my last post on coaching, I agree with the ILM that the selection of coaches often still lacks a robust structured process and so am going to share their recommended process as a good example.

This process can be used by an individual for themselves or by someone selecting on behalf of an organisation. It assumes that a long list of possible coaches has already been found.