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Building A Culture Of Measurement

Published by John Lovett on January 29, 2010 All posts from John Lovett

Building a Culture of Measurement is the title of the Keynote “Sprint” I’ll be delivering at Webtrends Engage next week in New Orleans. Like the other distinguished speakers during the keynote, I’ve only got 10 minutes to deliver my message and then get off the stage. Ten minutes isn’t nearly enough, so I thought that I’d elaborate here on my blog to hammer out the concepts behind my presentation.

Let me put it right out there and state that culture isn’t built overnight. And changing culture takes even longer. So save your get-rich-quick schemes for some other ponzi project. There is no quick fix for business culture because it exists in the ethos of your organization, not in the conference rooms, offices and cubicles. Culture consists of values, beliefs, legends, taboos and rituals that all companies develop over time. Attempting to force culture will most likely result in failed efforts and an ingenious solution. Instead, organizations that don’t have an inherent culture of measuring their marketing efforts must ingrain some key measurement enablers into the system.

    Know your surroundings – know your audience. Start by understanding what you’re working with by taking a realistic assessment of your organization’s culture. This may be easier for an outsider to gauge who can spot promise and dysfunction much more quickly than the tenured veteran who is so ingrained within the culture that it’s a part of their daily routine. In either case, taking a realistic assessment of how the company utilizes data and reacts to data-driven ideas is the launching point.

    Find levers that trigger change. Once you’ve assessed the situation and gained your bearings, then you need to find out what motivates individuals and business units within the organization. Measurement is largely about producing results, so if there are decisions being made in absence of data, perhaps digging up some examples of bad decisions with proof from historic data might offer some subtle hints about operating differently. Yet, all companies operate differently, so if yours is one that wouldn’t react well to this tactic, then figure our how to push the buttons (whether positive or negative) that will affect change.

    Always ask why. Not so much in the way that a three year old persistently asks…why? Why? WHY? But more so to determine if data requests and new projects have a well thought out plan with measurable goals. So much of what we do in analytics is founded on having clearly defined objectives and goals that it is imperative for web analysts to enforce their clarity by insisting that data has a purpose.

Once you’ve established what you’re working with, the next step is to develop a measurement strategy that meshes with your culture. I advise my clients to create a “Waterfall Strategy”. I introduced my concept of the Waterfall Strategy in my manifesto, so I won’t attempt to recreate it – here it is:

    Strategy Credo #8: Establish a waterfall strategy. By this I mean strategy should flow from the headwaters of the organization and align with the corporate goals set forth by the executive team. Once your measurement team is clear and united on the goals, then identify objectives as the next tier in your waterfall that supports the corporate goals (these are your business promises). The base of your waterfall strategy consists of the tactics. Tactics are the actual campaigns and programs that emerge from your marketing machine (your creative promises). Each tier within the waterfall has specific metrics that indicate success. These metrics must be clearly defined and baked into the system at all levels to ensure proper measurement. It’s also critical to recognize that neither you nor an external consultant is likely to change your corporate goals, but you can refine the way in which you get there.

The third effort that you must undertake when attempting to build a culture of measurement is to make your data sing. And no I don’t mean going on American Idol or belting out karaoke at your next company function. Here I’m talking about the ability to tell a story with your data. Think about culture for a minute here…it’s built on stories. You need to become a story-teller within your organization and find the narrative within the data. Communicate to your constituents not with numbers and spreadsheets, but with examples of how their efforts and activities contributed to the success of the organization. In doing this, you will create heroes and legends within your organization who earned their status through data. The next thing you know, others will be knocking at your door and asking for metrics and measures to show the brilliance and success of their projects. You’ll inherit a whole new set of problems when this starts to happen, but we can tackle that at another time.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Please let me know your thoughts and how you’ve built a culture of measurement at your organization.

Oh yeah, if you’re going to be at Webtrends Engage next week please seek me out and let’s talk about building a culture of measurement; my concept of the waterfall strategy; or simply share a story over a cup of coffee. If you haven’t seen it yet, Webtrends has built out an awesome site for networking with fellow Engage attendees, so let’s meet.

See you in NOLA!

**Update** Here’s the video courtesy of Webtrends of my official presentation.

Categorized under Analytics Culture


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