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.”