Finding a balance

It’s been a busy week here at Bays Consulting – we’re fortunate enough to be working on some incredibly interesting problems for people at the moment. Whilst that makes the days (and weeks!) go quickly, it can be hard to ensure the work we’re doing is going to have the impact it’s designed to have.

I say this because when you’re really enjoying what you’re working on it is all too easy to undertake esoteric analysis – doing analysis “just because you can” or because “it seems really interesting to investigate…” It is much harder, at times, to focus on the analysis that is genuinely important. We need to balance what is important in the near term for the project with what could be strategically important for the future of our clients.

One way we can find a balance is by getting to know our clients as well as we can, by finding out what is important to them, the customers they serve and how they intend to use the results of the project. For example, are the results going to help educate people who don’t have a history of interacting with facts and figures? By knowing the answer to this question, we can really tailor our presentation of results to ensure that the early stages of data exploration are shared in a way that is readily accessible. If we do that, then the results are given a context in which people can see themselves and helps us understand where priorities lie.

Another way we can start to understand where to focus effort is to start an open conversation about what is needed and when. The rapid (and seemingly rising) pace of work, means there is frequently a drive to get “an 80% solution now”, to “fail fast” or to “get the low hanging fruit” There are good reasons for seeking these answers, but if you really want to develop insights which can help the longer-term strategic view then you also need to allow analysts the time to do the deep work.

Some results just can’t be rushed. There needs to be time given to developing ideas, approaches and methodologies. Running models and algorithms to make predictions may take hours or days. These results can be immensely beneficial but take time. It can be easy to brush such work off as being superfluous, as not brining immediate benefit. But by aligning the quick wins with the deep (and often hard) analysis real impact can be achieved. Along with happy analysts who get to really develop their skills and do a job they love. That has to be a win-win situation.

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