Big Data Says The Answer is 42!

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Big Data, Consulting, Consumer Data, Digital Strategy, innovation, Leadership, Learning, Strategy, Technology | 0 comments

It’s been a long, long time since I read Douglas Adam’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“. But I’ve been trying to dive deep into understanding this “big data” craze more…pragmatically. At present, my brain feels pretty scrambled on the topic – but lots of associations and analogies keep coming to mind – a riff on “Maslow’s Hierarchy”,  Hitchhiker’s Guide… So I did some searching to try and figure out why these things were coming to mind, thought I’d share this tidbit. “O Deep Thought computer,” he said, “the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us….” he paused, “The Answer.” “The Answer?” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to what?” “Life!” urged Fook. “The Universe!” said Lunkwill. “Everything!” they said in chorus. Deep Thought paused for a moment’s reflection. “Tricky,” he said finally. “But can you do it?” Again, a significant pause. “Yes,” said Deep Thought, “I can do it.” …… [Seven and a half million years later…. Fook and Lunkwill are long gone, but their ancestors continue what they started] …… “Good Morning,” said Deep Thought at last. “Er..good morning, O Deep Thought” said Loonquawl nervously, “do you have…er, that is…” “An Answer for you?” interrupted Deep Thought majestically. “Yes, I have.” The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain. …. Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children. “And you’re ready to give it to us?” urged Loonsuawl. “I am.” “Now?” “Now,” said Deep Thought. They both licked their dry lips. “Though I don’t think,” added Deep Thought. “that you’re going to like it.” “Doesn’t matter!” said Phouchg. “We must know it! Now!” “Now?” inquired Deep Thought. “Yes! Now…” “All right,” said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable. “You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought. “Tell us!” “All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…” “Yes..!” “Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought. “Yes…!” “Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused. “Yes…!” “Is…” “Yes…!!!…?” “Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.” ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Pretty funny, huh?  Get it?  I laughed out loud. I’m a fan of data (love, love, love it … the more the better). But in this passage above, can’t you imagine that “Deep Thought” would be the poor, unfortunate team you’ve hired to make sense of your big data  – so many times without a...

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Failure Is An Option (Domino’s)

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Consulting, innovation, Inspiration, Leadership, Learning, Strategy, Vulnerability | 0 comments

There is no growth, no innovation without someone making a decision to be vulnerable – both personally and organizationally. Kudo’s to Domino’s. And if you are questioning how failure leads to success, it is this – knowing that one event, one fact is  – by itself-  without power to define you or your organization so long as it is not the last thing you ever do. Even the most seemingly awful mistakes don’t define you if you keep moving in the direction of how you want to be remembered (too many famous examples to choose from, I am thinking of Bill Clinton, New Coke, ?..who/what can you think of?) MediaPost Publications For Domino’s, ‘Failure Is An Option’...

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I miss long boring meetings!!!

Posted by on Apr 17, 2014 in Burnout, Consulting, Inspiration, Just For Fun, Learning, Sliderpostings | 0 comments

Just this morning I realized that it has been months since I sat through a boring meeting. Contrary to what you might expect, this was not a “good for you Susan” moment. At the time of the realization, I was driving back to my home office after dropping my son off at preschool – mentally ticking off all the things I needed to do, and knowing there was no way in hell it was all going to get done. When I worked full time, for a company, in a real office – I’d often spend the first 30 minutes of every day “un-double/triple-booking” my calendar…so when, exactly, was it that I got all that other “stuff’ done that seemed impossible to knock out now??? Then it hit me – and I probably shouldn’t admit it – but what is not getting done is all the stuff I used to do during long boring meetings! In a long boring meeting, where your presence often seems to be more of a requirement than your  attention, I got a lot of mindless or administrative stuff done. That I am admitting this is horrible – I know – but I also know, based on all of the typing on laptops and phones that is *not* taking of notes – that I am far from the minority. So what’s different for me now and why? I still have a lot of meetings. The problem is, when I have a meeting, my full attention is a requirement. I’m chasing down and exploring thought leadership, and it is intensely interesting to me.  To be at all worthy of the time and attention of the party at the table or on the phone, I must be on my game the whole time.  Not only that, I often need at least 30 minutes after each meeting just to process what I’ve learned and what to do with that new knowledge. Not to mention the benefits of a good nights sleep when you are learning at this pace. By the way, my apologies to all who are waiting for me to get back to you “regarding availability” for a call or a meeting…I’m doing the best that I can, and I really do want to meet…just rest assured that when we finally do get something on the calendar, you will have my full and undivided attention! It’s all very fun and cool, and yet I still worry – am I being more or less productive?  Productivity has always been one of my strongest value points (see the quotes on my bio page?).  If I am less productive, it feels like backwards personal progress. If I am getting fewer things...

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What Corporate America & Middle School Have In Common.

Posted by on Apr 16, 2014 in Burnout, Consulting, Inspiration, Leadership, Learning | 0 comments

In the sixth grade, someone saying “hello” to me in the hallway literally caused me physical pain. At that awkward time in life, all I knew was that it looked dangerous to be noticed. Friends I had seen and known all my life seemed to change overnight – brokering friendships, cattiness and jealousies, hurting each other in ways that seemed way more personal than the relatively superficial neighborhood arguments of our simpler, elementary school years. I didn’t understand it, and because I didn’t understand it – it was scary to me, I withdrew, I participated minimally. So what does that have to do with Corporate America? Well, I have never been able to wrap my brain around the thing called “corporate politics” either. Or – more precisely – as much as I can wrap my brain around it, I could never just accept it as part of the job as I advanced in my career. If it was just about the work, just about making cool stuff happen – I was all over it. My bouncy, genuinely enthusiastic self could skip all over the building working with teams to see and tackle the hard issues and find solutions, with an above average record of success, often exceeding expectations. Then my bouncy, genuinely enthusiastic self would bounce into a senior leadership team meeting and leave completely confounded and demoralized by a debate and a discussion thread that made absolutely no sense at all – even though I knew that I knew my stuff better than anyone else in the room.  It felt like middle school – except this time I couldn’t help but be noticed because of my prior successes and because I was a bit naive. In the early stages of my career (when I wasn’t a threat to anyone), I believed that the only thing that mattered was results, and so I couldn’t give it up – I kept trying. (That results are the only thing that matter is, ultimately, true in all businesses – and that’s why I love it. You’ll find it to be most tangibly true, however, in start ups, thinner margin or high growth businesses.)  In this particular case, I did not withdraw – but very likely, there are brilliant budding young (and old experienced) minds   – with information that you need in order to make good leadership choices  – and they are participating minimally. Even if you ask them directly for their input, they may still decline because of the uncertainty around how it may be received. The reality is that all organizations comprised of human beings have politics, to some degree or another. Organizational politics have some good reasons for being....

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Coupon Fatigue? Calling All Digital Grocery Coupon Burn-Outs!

Posted by on Mar 4, 2014 in Brand eCRM, Burnout, Consulting, CPG, Digital Coupon, Digital Strategy, Learning, Load to Card, Loyalty, Online Coupon, Online Grocery, Online Marketing, Printable Coupon | 0 comments

In no area of marketing does innovation have greater potential to positively and significantly impact the daily lives of more people than in the weekly task of GROCERY SHOPPING.  And yet for all the money, technology, data and brainpower invested, we have very little to show for it as an industry (no offense to those who have been trying, I’ve been right there with you for more than a decade). The best opt-in rates for digital consumer engagements in grocery are less than 10% (lower than that on average).  Maintaining that engagement is a whole other challenge. Most grocery consumer engagement is funded through and by digital couponing, a tactic that appeals to less than 15% of U.S. Households on an ongoing basis and is currently “out of vogue” with brands desperate for new ways to build brand value (and profit margin). Less than 1% of Grocery sales occur online (although this is changing, more on that in another post later). As a result, there are literally billions of brand and retail marketing dollars stuck in increasingly inefficient marketing channels – not because they don’t want to go online (many famous pronouncements have been made to move budget dollars online over the last 15 years) – but no existing solution has the scale to spend that kind of money (not even the biggest dogs in the digital CPG fight). Never, never, never has there been a spending population more patient and willing to test nearly anything and everything – and the fact that there has been no true game changer – well, I’ve literally seen it break hearts. The heart breakers – “great ideas” that turned out to be not-so-great; super cool companies with value propositions that left consumers cold; hot and hungry teams  that turned out not so “hot” at follow-through; “game changers” and “killer apps” with funky or ambitious names that … in the end …have struggled to deliver the only things that really matter: meaningful, scalable, repeatable impact on volume of units moved “brand value” creation store preference and retailer share of their customer’s spending. Many of the pioneers, thinkers, doers, and innovators that I’ve run across along my journey have given up – clients and colleagues – they call it “coupon fatigue” (because a lot of these efforts centered around varying consumer currencies like coupons). They jump out and start businesses in other industries, where the ground is more fertile for innovation…and the consumer value proposition is, quite frankly, easier to deliver. But it’s not the time to give up! It’s time to admit that (I hate to say it), is going to take a village. We need to pool together the collective insight from...

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