I am going to tell you a little something about myself.

(Huddle in close. It’s a secret.)

In a former life, I was a musician.  And I sang in a rock cover band in the DC area.

I sang and played guitar and did my best to dance around on a tight stage in the middle of crowded bars.

We were good.  Really good.

But you learn when you are in a cover band that people don’t really want to hear any of your originals.  Especially if they have been drinking.  Forget about your originals then.  They will yell at you to sing Journey, Maroon 5, Janis Joplin and whatever else suits their fancy at that point in the evening.

And while being a real live jukebox for drunk twenty-somethings in crowded bars was very, very rewarding (NOT) – all good things must come to an end.

So I retired my Martin.

Well – I didn’t really retire it, per se.  I still play things like “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”  You can still hear my voice on sites like this.

As an ode to my past and my love for all things musical – I have decided to do a series of posts combining two things I love – music and analytics.

Because every good song has a lesson in it . . .

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action.

Elvis had it wrong.  Well, not completely wrong.  Because you don’t want to just be sitting around day and talking if you don’t plan on executing.

But one of the biggest challenges to impact any project, not just an analytics project – is the desire to execute without having the extended and real conversations that need to take place.

Now, I know that you might have done the following:

1) Held some requirements meetings.

2) Collected information on key metrics, reports and dashboards that are being requested.

3) Had more meetings.

And you are pretty sure that everyone is on the same page as you.  Because when you held those meetings, people nodded at you.  They got you.  Short of doing back-flips – your team was fully on board.

The problem is the following:

Once requirements are signed off on – if you have formalized a sign-off process or not – iterative discussion between development teams and business groups loses momentum.

You lose traction.

The conversations shift in nature.  If they are happening at all.

All this aggravation ain’t satisfactioning me

People become disenchanted.  They stop high fiving and doing back flips.

Project Success is Dependent on Strong Communication . .  .

Don’t stop talking.  Don’t stop conversing.

And to use the wise words of Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Embrace the following:

1) Honest communications – be clear on all fronts – even if it makes you unpopular at times.  Raise issues when they arise and ensure that sponsors and stakeholders have a clear sense of status, progress, risk and challenges throughout.

2) Exhaustive communications – This is the time where it is ok to mimic a three year old and say “Why? Why? Why?” when you collect requirements.  When you confirm requirements.  When you execute on requirements.   Be able to explain the “why” on every level:

Why do we need that metric?

Why do we want this in the report suite again?  What business requirement does it meet?

Why do you want to report on that?  What objective does it meet?

Why would you configure it this way, versus that way?  Why not this alternative way instead?

3) Prototyping when feasible – use every opportunity to ensure that your development teams and your business teams are aligned throughout the project – don’t allow the development team to go hide themselves away with the business users receiving status that everything is moving right along.  Set up active prototyping sessions to ensure expectations and requirements are being interpreted correctly.

So go on now.  Go fire up some Elvis on your Pandora account.  He will always be the King.

Even if he isn’t necessarily always right.

P.S. If you comment – you have to also tell me what your favorite song is.  And DON’T say “Freebird.”