Using ChatGPT as an Analytic Professional to Become More Persuasive.

Written by Heather L. Cole, March 9th, 2023

I recently received what I felt was a curt email from our main supplier.  You know one of those emails when you read it you are like WOW did she really just send that to a customer.  At first, I thought I maybe was overreacting.  So, I decided to see what Christina on our team thought of it.  Christina is our super sweet, very customer focused, and solutions oriented renewal specialist.  She always sees the good in people.   Seconds later my phone chimed.  It was a message from Christina, “Wow… Interesting response from the rep…”

If you follow me at all you know I am all about learning and teaching people how to be more influential and persuasive because I believe if we all worked on these soft skills, analytics and data driven movements would be more pervasive.  Yes, I believe it’s our analytic minds blocking analytics, but more on that later.

I decided to try a little experiment, could ChatGPT help people become more persuasive and influential in email?  My hypothesis is that when we have bad news, or want someone to see our side of the situation, maybe AI could help.  I asked ChatGPT to take the original email from the rep and rewrite it to be more persuasive and customer focused. 

"Again, we can't do split bids for this renewal. What you do on your own paper, is up to you."

ChatGPT Version:

Dear [Customer],

I hope this email finds you well. Thank you for considering us for your renewal needs.

After careful consideration, we regret to inform you that we are unable to offer split bids for this renewal. However, we are committed to providing you with the best possible service and ensuring that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

We understand that flexibility is important to you, and we want to help you in any way we can. While we are unable to offer split bids, we encourage you to explore your options and make the decision that is best for you. Our team is always available to answer any questions you may have and provide guidance throughout the renewal process.

Thank you again for considering us as your partner. We value your business and look forward to serving you in the future.

Best regards,

Wow!  What a difference.  If I had received ChatGPT’s version I would not have felt compelled to personally send an email to the sender asking if she intended to be curt.  You see, sometimes we get stressed at work and well we get short, snarky, and curt.  We all do it.  But if we want to succeed at work and life in general, we need to STOP, pause, and read our email as if we were the recipient.  Then ask yourself how I would feel after receiving this email.

ChatGPT and Our Analytic Minds

I believe our highly trained analytic minds often get in our way.  We spend all our time looking at facts and data and forget that most of the world makes decisions based on emotion.  This has been a big hurdle for me personally as I am not what I would call a warm fuzzy person.  It’s taken years of practice and developing my still underdeveloped skills of adding what I call “sugar” to an email.

Maybe AI can help us all communicate a little better.  If we improve our emails by adding a little “sugar” we can improve our working relationships.  To help you improve your emails check out this blog I wrote years ago, How to Write a Powerful Email that gets Rapid Results.

Another interesting resource is, 12 Common Work Email Mistakes. 

I believe we all can benefit from remembering the insightful words of Maya Angelou when she said,

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou Quote

Now it’s your turn.

Find an email you sent yesterday where you had to share bad news or try to persuade someone to do something.  Then log on to ChatGPT  and ask it to rewrite your email to be more persuasive and customer focused.  You will be amazed what it generates in seconds.

AI and Analytic Success Requires a Culture Change

AI and Analytic Success Requires a Culture Change
AI and Analytic Success Requires a Culture Change
Written by Heather L. Cole, February 23rd, 2023

Analytics and Artificial intelligence (AI) adoption has been on the rise in recent years as companies have recognized the potential benefits they can offer.  From automating tasks to analyzing data and improving decision-making, AI & Analytics has the power to transform businesses and maybe even the world. However, despite the promise of AI, many corporations struggle to adopt it.  Today, we'll explore some stories of AI adoption in corporations, how AI and Analytic Success Requires a Culture Change, and how to change the culture to foster a more Analytic and AI-friendly environment.

Story 1: The Unsuccessful Implementation

Let’s look at Company A that decided to implement AI to improve its customer service.  The goal was to use AI to respond to customer inquiries and reduce the workload on customer service representatives.  However, the implementation was unsuccessful.  The AI was unable to understand the context of customer inquiries, leading to inaccurate responses that frustrated customers.  Not exactly the outcome they were looking to achieve.

Why it Failed.

The company had a culture that valued efficiency over quality.  This led the organization and its people to focus on implementing AI quickly rather than ensuring it was effective.  AI requires some trial and error.  AI needs to be fed with information so it can learn.  But most importantly, the failure was attributed to the company's culture.  Because the culture valued speed over quality, they did not assign the right resources and lacked the necessary expertise to implement AI properly.  They didn't have data scientists or machine learning engineers on staff, so the implementation was left to non-experts who lacked the necessary knowledge and experience.

Story 2: The Successful Implementation

Company B decided that they needed to improve their marketing efforts by leveraging AI.  The goal was to use AI to analyze customer data and identify patterns that would allow them to tailor marketing campaigns to specific customer segments.  After proper scoping the AI was able to predict customer behavior and preferences with high accuracy, leading to more effective marketing campaigns, which resulted in more revenue.

Why they Succeeded.

The culture in Company B was very different than A.  The culture valued innovation and experimentation, leading to a willingness to try new things, including AI.  The leadership had already created a strong foundation building a data culture, with data-driven decision-making ingrained in its processes.  So, when they decided to leverage AI, the company had the necessary data and expertise to implement AI properly. 

Changing the Culture to Foster Analytics and AI Adoption

The successful implementation of Analytics and AI requires a culture that supports it.  Here are some tips for changing the culture to foster AI adoption:

Learn the Steps for Making Change Work

Have you ever noticed that some companies create a new initiative every 2 years, only to scrap it and rebrand a new initiative?  Organizations that try to make a massive change and fail, often have leaders that don’t follow the framework for implementing Change.  Yes, there’s a framework for that.  At Lodestar Solutions we have developed a 9-step framework for Leaders who want to become Analytic Leaders to follow.  (To learn more, join our webinar on Feb 28th Noon- 1:30 PM Eastern here’s the link to register.) 

Failed Step - Urgency

As an executive coach the step I see executives and organizations miss most often and maybe one of the most important steps is to create a sense of urgency.  Status Quo is comfortable.  But changing a culture to be data-driven, to leverage analytics and AI, is not comfortable for most people.  They fear they will lose their jobs.  They fear failing and looking stupid.  So, it’s safer to drag their feet, and not take the bold actions required for success.  But when leaders create a sense of urgency and share the WHY leveraging Analytics and AI is so important, it can create a movement.

Invest in Training Your Team

When people are not trained, they will be fearful.  For many employees, especially us Gen Xers or older, technology can be scary.  By developing a training program where everyone is exposed to technology, data, and even design thinking, you can create a culture that values data and data-driven decision making.  At Lodestar Solutions we even train all team members in SCRUM methodologies to help projects succeed.

Hire the Right People

Although it’s important to make sure you have team members that have a background in data science and machine learning to implement AI properly, these resources can be hard to find and costly.  At Lodestar Solutions, we believe hiring people with an ability and desire to learn is critical.  We also believe that hiring for attitude is another key to success.  We highly recommend the book Hiring for Attitude by Mark Murphy.

If you are looking to hire, check out our earlier blog, Why You Aren’t Attracting Analytics Talent. 

Encourage Experimentation

Encourage employees to experiment with new technologies and ideas, including AI.  Creating workshops and training opportunities for your teams can help promote curiosity.  When you host workshops try to have a mix of team members from various departments to encourage cross functional ideas.  Ideally you will use an agile method so that short sprints will encourage experimentation and flexibility to change the course.  Here’s a blog we wrote about the benefits of a SCRUM method. 

In conclusion, AI and Analytic Success Requires a Culture Change.  This does not happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen because an executive said, “we are now going to be a data-driven organization”.  AI and Analytic success comes when you focus on empowering your people, hiring the right people, leading by example, and letting people learn.  Analytics and AI adoption can be challenging, but it has the potential to transform businesses.  By changing the culture to foster Analytics and AI adoption, companies can reap the benefits of this powerful technology.  But Executives or all areas need to learn to become analytic leaders.

Want to Learn More? 

 Join Us.
Creating An Analytic Culture Webinar

Feb 28th Noon- 1:30 PM Eastern

Here’s the link to register or scan the QR code above. 

Why Hiring a Chief Analytics Officer Might Slow Down Analytics Adoption

Why Hiring a Chief Analytics Officer Might Slow Down Analytics Adoption
Why Hiring a Chief Analytics Officer Might Slow Down Analytics Adoption
Written by Heather L. Cole, February 2nd, 2023

I was WRONG!  GULP!  Wow that’s hard to say but I am afraid it might be true!  For years I have been preaching that to get momentum in your analytics you needed to commit to the initiative and hire team members focused on analytics and ideally hire a Chief Analytics Officer.  But I have changed my mind.  I now believe for many companies hiring a Chief Analytics Officer might slow down Analytics Adoption.

A Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) is a high-level executive position responsible for overseeing an organization's data analytics strategy.  While the appointment of a CAO can bring many benefits to an organization, it can also lead to slowing down the analytics process.  In this blog, we'll explore some of the reasons why a CAO can slow down analytics.

Departmental Accountability:

For analytics to flourish in an organization it must follow the adage, “for the people by the people”.  Every department needs to be part of the solution.  They must help define where analytics can solve pressing business problems in their areas.  The entire organization needs to embrace an Analytic Culture and work together to become data driven.  When a Chief Analytics Officer is hired and leads an analytic department, other departments often decide analytics is not their problem.  Finance, Marketing, HR... all need to be accountable for being part of the solution.  But, when there is a department in charge of analytics, they no longer feel they need to be accountable.   Without all departments committed to and accountable for their role in analytics, analytics success will be significantly slower and harder to achieve.


The appointment of a CAO often brings with it a layer of bureaucracy that can slow down the analytics process.  CAOs often must navigate multiple stakeholders, conflicting priorities, and navigate organizational politics, all of which can take time and slow down the analytics process.  Furthermore, if the CAO came from outside of the organization which many do, they may not have the influence needed to succeed.

Focus on compliance and security:

CAOs are also responsible for ensuring that the organization's data analytics processes are compliant with regulations and secure.  This can often mean that the CAO has to put security and compliance measures in place, which can slow down the analytics process.  It a fine balance between security data and distributing data for analytic use.  Meanwhile departments are looking for information rapidly, and if they feel the CAO is just slowing them down, they may not provide the collaboration required to properly discover and define departmental requirements.

Chief Accounting Officers are often tasked with driving change within an organization.  However, change can often meet resistance, especially when it involves processes that have been in place for a long time. This can slow down the speed of analytics as the CAO has to navigate the resistance and get everyone on board.  If CAO’s are not trained in influence, persuasion, negotiation, and facilitation they may face change resistant departments.

To learn more, see our blog Facilitating Analytic Discovery for Success 

Have you given up on the vision of being a data driven organization

Changing to an Analytic Culture:

To really succeed in analytics an organization must make the changes necessary to convert the culture to embrace data and analytics.  The first step is to define what data driven means.  According to Scott Castle in his Forbes blog, Rise Of The Analytical ExecutiveData Driven means “implementing a hypothesis-driven culture where we identify theories, test them, and rigorously seek to disprove them while rapidly implementing those that show promise.” 

So, then the question shifts to how does a Chief Analytics Officer get an entire organization to take an almost scientific approach and embrace being wrong?  According to Gartner in their article Create a Data-Driven Culture by Influencing 3 Areas, leaders must inspire people to believe that change is necessary.  

I believe, this is not a one-person job!  Inspiring people requires people to trust you, believe in your vision, and believe they will benefit from the changes.   This requires all leaders in the organization to be on board and become analytic leaders, not just the CAO.  For more information on what makes an Analytic Leader, see our recent blog, 7 Traits of Analytics Leaders.


Join us on Thursday, Feb 16th, 2023, from 1-4 PM Eastern for our Creating an Analytic Culture 3 Hour Workshop!  This is a Get **it Done, interactive workshop.  Learn more here.

Or just register at ENROLL NOW!

7 Traits of Analytic Leaders

7 Traits of Analytic Leaders
7 Traits of Analytic Leaders
Written by Heather L. Cole, January 19th 2023

Almost every organization is striving to be data driven.  Companies are working hard to create a culture that embraces analytics.  Unfortunately, many companies are expecting their BI and analytics team to lead this initiative.  But what they are missing is that companies with a culture for analytics have ANALYTIC LEADERSHIP!  So today we will cover the seven traits of Analytic Leaders. 

What Is An Analytic Leader?

Analytic leaders are executives who rely heavily on data and analysis to make decisions.  They are often seen as logical and methodical thinkers, who are able to take a step back and look at the big picture while also focusing on the details.  Here are some of the key traits that define analytic leaders:

Strategic Thinking:

Analytic leaders are able to think strategically, considering long-term goals and objectives while also taking into account current resources and constraints.  They are able to identify patterns and trends in data and use this information to make informed decisions that will help the organization achieve its goals.

Attention to Detail:

Analytic leaders pay close attention to details and are able to identify important information that others might miss.  They are able to dig deep into data and find insights that can be used to improve the organization.

Critical Thinking:

Analytic leaders are able to think critically and objectively, considering multiple perspectives and evaluating evidence to make decisions.  They are able to separate fact from fiction and identify what is truly important.


Analytic leaders are natural problem-solvers.  They are able to identify problems, gather and analyze data, and come up with solutions that are both effective and efficient.


Analytic leaders are able to communicate complex information and ideas in a clear and concise manner, making it easy for others to understand.  They are able to explain the reasoning behind their decisions and the data that supports them, making it easy for others to buy-in and support their decisions.


Analytic leaders are able to adapt to changing circumstances and are comfortable working with uncertainty.  They are able to pivot and change course when necessary, making sure they stay on course to achieve their goals.


Analytic leaders are able to lead and inspire others, fostering a culture of data driven decision-making throughout the organization.  They are able to build strong teams and create an environment where everyone is encouraged to think critically and share their ideas.

What to learn more?  Check out a few other great resources on this topic.

In Summary

Analytic leadership is essential to success.  Analytic Leaders are a valuable asset to any organization. They are able to make data driven decisions that are strategic, logical, and effective.  They are able to think critically and objectively, identify problems and come up with solutions.  They are able to communicate complex ideas and lead and inspire others.  Companies that have analytic leaders in the executive ranks are more likely to be successful in today's data driven world.  But to become an analytic leader you must learn the skills necessary to inspire a cultural shift, be a role model and lead the organization. 

Over the next few weeks Lodestar Solutions will be sharing valuable insights on how to become the spark that gives your organization what it needs to succeed in the data driven world. Find all our blogs here.

Surrounding Yourself for Success! – Part 2

Surrounding Yourself for Success Part 2
Surrounding Yourself for Success Part 2
Written by Heather L. Cole, December 8th 2022

Are you ready to achieve your goals?  Are you ready to get promoted, make more money, or get your dream job?  If so, there is one step you can take that will help you get what you want faster!  It’s SURROUNDING YOURSELF FOR SUCCESS!

Last week I introduced you to the circle of success.  We shared the four categories of people I surround myself with that have provided the encouragement, accountability, and inspiration to help me succeed.

The categories are Leadership/Mentors, Team/Co-Workers, Growth/Learning, and Friends/Family.  Last week we covered Leadership/Mentors and Team/Co-Workers.  Here’s a link to Surrounding Yourself for Success! – Part 1.

It’s important to note that all of these categories are important.  If you are significantly lacking in one, it could slow down your success.

But I also want to challenge you to do a little reflection on your situation.  Are you surrounding yourself with the right people… Is it time to level up?

Surround success

My Story

Have you ever set a New Year’s resolution and maybe for a week or so you take the necessary steps, but then you slip.  Tomorrow you will get back to it.  Then you say Monday I’ll do it.  And before you know it, it’s June.  It’s so easy to go through our daily routine and wonder where all the time went.  

We all have done it.  But research shows that when you tell others about your goal, and you have someone who holds you accountable you are more likely to accomplish your goal. 

The challenge for many people is finding the courage to tell others about their BOLD Goals.  And then finding someone that will hold you accountable for doing the work it will take to accomplish those goals is even more difficult. 

For years I feared telling my friends and family what I wanted in life.  I felt alone on my own fantasy island.  But then on the encouragement of a long distant friend, I attended a Tony Robbins summit in San Jose.  As I walked into the enormous convention center the music was pounding, people were dancing and I thought, “What did I get myself into?”  I was way out of my comfort zone.  But as the event started and Tony bounded onto stage with his massive frame and energy, he explained that if we ever felt alone in having big goals, if our friends and family thought we were a little off, that we were in the right place.  The room of 5,000 people were all people like me!  Crazy goals, big visions and wanting to make the world a better place! 

What I learned is that no matter what your goal, or vision is, there are conferences and events focused on your topic and at those conferences are people even crazier than you.  If you surround yourself with people that also have lofty goals, magic can happen. 


The fourth category in the circle of success is surrounding yourself with people that help you grow and learn.  People that respectfully challenge your thoughts, and then add new ideas. 

This week I am in Huntington Beach, CA at a Coaching Summit.  The reason I am here is I needed a boost.  I needed to totally immerse myself in a room of positive, and inspirational people.  I need to learn new ideas in the coaching industry and meet new friends.  I know that when I attend summits like this it’s like a power pelt, I gain clarity, new ideas and meet people that will hold me accountable.  If you have been able to find people that help you grow and think differently in your hometown, fabulous.  I have never been that lucky.  But when I commit the time, and travel to remote locations that I know will have people that want to learn and grow, it’s game changing.   Some of my best friends I have met at conferences and masterminds around the world.   Heck, I even met my husband at a conference.

Heather and Gary

My success measure for a conference is to learn 3 new things and meet 3 new people I will keep in touch with. 

Putting yourself in environments where you are surrounded by people with knowledge and experiences that are different than yours provides new ideas, and perspectives.  Often these people are instrumental in learning new approaches to challenges, or they open doors you didn’t know exist. 

What is on your learning list?  What conferences are you going to?  What groups are you involved with. 

Do you need a little boost?  Ready to learn new things?  According to this Forbes article, lifelong learning is a key to thriving. (Embrace Lifelong Learning to Thrive in The Future Of Work)

Imagine attending an event to learn and meeting a learning buddy?  So do it today, join a new trade associate, user group or register for a conference.  Now that we are returning to in person, I recommend going and being physically present and put yourself out there.   

You might want to check out this blog, 14 Steps to Take to Build a Strong Professional Network.

If you are looking to learn more about building your team and hiring top talent join us for our upcoming webinar.

Tackling the Top 3 Performance Management and Budgeting Struggles: Talent, Time and Tech

Monday, December 12, 2022 10-11AM Eastern

Who Are Your Cheerleaders

Take a minute and think about one family member or friend that encourages you and is a positive force in your world.  Do they know your BOLD Goals?  Do they hold you accountable for showing up everyday to take one small step toward your goal?  Maybe you don’t have a family or friend that cheers you on. That’s okay most people don’t. 

As I mentioned earlier for years, I didn’t have the family and friend relationships that I felt comfortable sharing my goals with.  I felt alone on my island.  I even have family members that mock and joke about “Heather’s personal development”.  The more they mocked me, the more I pulled away. 

Have you ever noticed the people that don’t support your goals are always the ones who say you are “so lucky” when you accomplish them.  Hmmm.

Toxic friends and family are easy to find.  But when you find cheerleader friends, MAGIC HAPPENS!

Family/Friends -

The fourth and final category of the circle of success is your family and friends and here’s a reality check. 


Yes, that’s the brutal truth.  We have friends that are toxic and holding us back.  It’s time to find new friends.  I am not saying you have to completely disassociate with your toxic high school friend you have known for 35 years, just find new ones and spend more time with the positive ones.  Here’s an interesting blog on Frenemies.

The Five People

Chris & I met at a Conference years ago and talk every Tuesday!

Jess, one of my closest friends that I met at a conference in Spain.

Try this exercise, list the five people you spend the most time with.  Now score them 0-10 on how encouraging and supportive they are.  Are they helping you grow?  What’s the average? 

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn says that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.  Do you need some new friends?  A great way to level up your friend group is to do what I did.  Attend conferences, user groups, summits, or join a mastermind.  It can be game changing.  Heck I even created a virtual book club and invited random associates.  It was a great way to get to know them better. 

In Conclusion

The way to achieve your bold goals faster is to surround yourself for success.  If you would like to learn more how about the summits, conferences and events I have found most beneficial, email me at

Surrounding Yourself for Success! – Part 1 of 2

Surrounding Yourself for Success - Part 1
Surrounding Yourself for Success - Part 1
Written by Heather L. Cole, December 2nd 2022

Can you believe it’s December 2022 already?  This week I celebrated my birthday by sitting on the beach and chillaxing with my husband, Gary.  Taking time out is essential to be a high performer and it allows for reflection and goal setting.  I decided this is the year!  This is the year I’ll make an even bigger difference in the world of Performance Management and Analytics!  But for me to achieve my goal, there is one extremely important step I must take!  This one step can change one’s life!  The step is SURROUNDING YOURSELF FOR SUCCESS!

What Does Surrounding Yourself for Success Mean?

Think about your biggest accomplishment.  Who was by your side?  Or who was in front of you leading the way?  Maybe they were behind you pushing you to achieve your vision.  In my life I have found that ALL my achievements had someone that somehow cheered me on!

The cheerleaders were employees and team members that were in the trenches with me, they were family members, and even strangers, but there was always someone.  So, what I have learned is that surrounding yourself for success starts with surrounding myself with the right people.  I believe there are 4 main categories of people that help me reach success faster.  However there have been times that I found myself in the company of people that not only were not my cheerleaders, but they held me back. Some people are even toxic. So, let’s explore these four categories.  It’s important to note that all these categories are important.  If you are significantly lacking in one, it could slow down your success.

But I also want to challenge you to do a little reflection on your situation.  Are you surrounding yourself with the right people… Is it time to level up?

Surround success


The first category is Leadership and Mentors.  This could be your boss or another leader in your organization, or it could be a mentor or trusted advisor, even a coach you hire.  These are individuals that aren’t just your manager, but they take an interest in your success, hopefully in all areas of your life.  They will ask you the tough questions and should help you become strategic about your actions and future. 

In my life these have not been my bosses, but I have found when I have hired the right coach or joined the right mastermind, it’s like getting in the express lane.  My goals get achieved faster without as much challenge.  Do you have the right coaches, and leaders in your life?  If you are thinking about a career change, I encourage you to not just look at the company and the job but are there leaders within the organization you would benefit from having in your circle?


The second category of people I put in my circle of success are team members and co-workers.  These are not necessarily just people in the company I work in but can be people working on a project with me.  When we have teams that have a common goal and work effectively, we will be successful.  Unfortunately, we see all too often that teams are put together without consideration of how the personalities will meld.  Organizations just look for skills and knowledge, and then wonder why projects fail. 

In the world of business analytics, I see organizations hiring people just because they know Cognos, or Power BI or IBM Planning Analytics and they fail to look at the most important component, ATTITUDE!

What I have discovered is that many hiring managers fail to define their core values for their team and then find people that have those core values and attitudes.   

When I first took the time to define the core values for our Lodestar Solutions Team and then evaluated our team members it was like lightning struck!  My struggles were because I had a few team members that did not have the right cores values or attitude for our goals.  This epiphany caused me to act.  I immediately talked to the team members in question and helped them find jobs elsewhere that was a better fit for them.  

If you are looking to learn more about building your team and hiring top talent join us for our upcoming webinar.

Tackling the Top 3 Performance Management and Budgeting Struggles: Talent, Time and Tech

Monday, December 12, 2022 10-11AM Eastern

Registration Link

Next week we will address the two other categories in the Circle of Success. 

What’s Your #1 Hiring Blindspot?

What's Your #1 Hiring Blindspot Blog
What's Your #1 Hiring Blindspot Blog
Written by Heather L. Cole, August 11th 2022

Are you looking to hire IT or Finance talent and struggling to find good applicants?  You might be feeling frustrated with your HR team or recruiters and wondering, “why can’t they do their job?”  But I must say, it’s not their fault.  The world has changed, and many organizations have failed to adjust their hiring strategy.  As a result, they have a hiring blindspot.  Are you curious to learn what’s your #1 hiring blindspot? 

The World has Changed

I think we can all agree, the world has change.  There has been a seismic shift in what employees are looking for, and what they want out of their careers.  I believe this shift has been caused by two forces.  The pandemic has caused us all to reflect on what’s really important to us, and the younger generations have a different mindset regarding careers.

The Result

A younger generational shift has been moving slowly for years.  See my earlier blogs on Millennials.  But then we add the pandemic which caused employees to take inventory of their lives and BAAM the seismic shift in the recruiting and hiring world occurred.  Employees started singing the 80’s Twisted Sister Song, “Were Not Going to Take It,” and decided they would rather be unemployed chasing their dream career than keep doing what they were doing. 

The Facts

In December 2021 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs.  There were 10.9 million job openings posted on the last day of December, far more than the roughly 6.3 million people counted as unemployed. See SHRM’s blog, Year- End Employee Quits Remained Record High.

The Problem

The problem is that most hiring managers and executives didn’t shift! 

Over the last year as an executive high-performance coach, I have met with many executives and managers to discuss their biggest challenges.  Hiring Talent was number 1.  As we explored what was causing the challenge to attract, hire and retain talent it became obvious to me that executives were suffering from one of 3 common hiring blindspots.  The most common was that they were still using the old school ways to hire people.  They would dust off an old job post and have HR post it on the web and hope qualified applicants would see the post or their recruiters would find them.  (See our blog Why You Aren’t Attracting Analytic Talent)

You might be thinking, what’s wrong with that…?

The Challenge

Have you read your job postings lately?  Clients send me postings to review and I am shocked that they are very company focused.  They don’t communicate what’s in it for the applicant.  They don’t communicate the growth opportunities.  When I point this out to my clients they usually laugh and say, “yeah we need to work on that.”  See our blog, Job Posting Tips to Attract Analytic Talent.

The Urgency

Your hiring blindspot is a big issue for a number of reasons.  

1. Risk of More Team Members Leaving

If you have already experienced team members leaving, you may be short staffed and feeling overworked to cover for the missing team member.  But worse, your team could be feeling stressed and overworked which puts them at risk of leaving too.

2. Risk of Not Meeting Strategic Goals

When you are short staffed it becomes even more challenging for your team to complete the strategic goals or initiatives you set for the year.  Maybe your goal is to upgrade your analytics solution or implement a new planning solution.  It will become significantly harder with less staff, but that’s magnified if the team member that left had 10 years of knowledge of the corporation.

3. Top Talent Could Go to Competitors

The biggest issue is that if you don’t identify you hiring blindspot and address it, the top talent you seek could go to your competitor!

The Solution

The first step to solving a problem is to identify you have one!  So, can we admit, we all probably have at least one hiring blindspot?  Okay, now that we identified the problem let’s go deeper. 

Through my research I have identified 3 most common hiring blindspots that hiring managers suffer from, but most have a predominate one that should be addressed first.  To make this easy I have developed a little quiz that takes a couple minutes to complete that will help you identify your #1 hiring blindspot. 

Identifying your blindspot is not enough!  I feel so strongly about the negative affects that the hiring blindspots are having on our clients that I decided to create a 3-hour virtual Overcoming Your Hiring Blindspot Workshop to help you take action to address the problem.  In this workshop you will discover:

  •  The 3 Common Hiring Blindspots
  • The Secret to Writing Compelling Job Descriptions
  • How to Leverage Social Networking and Media to Find Talent Not Looking for A Job
  • Why Core Values and a Vision are Key to Attracting Talent

This is a “get shit done” (GSD) workshop where you actually take action to shift your mindset and approach to hiring.

To learn more about this workshop click this button.

I am excited to work with you to solve your hiring challenge! 

I promise to bring tons of value during this workshop, but I have one favor to ask of you!  Can you please share this with your colleagues, Linkedin connections, etc…

Time to Evaluate Your Budgeting & Planning Software?

Time to Evaluate Your Budgeting and Planning Software
Time to Evaluate Your Budgeting and Planning Software
Written by Heather L. Cole, June 30th 2022

Are your budgeting and planning processes meeting your needs?  Wondering if what you own is what you need?  Don’t know where to start?  Maybe you are thinking it might be time to do a software evaluation of your budgeting and planning software?  Lodestar Solutions has been helping clients evaluate and implement Planning solutions for over 18 years and we have learned a few things along the way. 

The biggest mistake teams make in evaluating their budgeting and planning software is jumping right into a request for proposal process or asking vendors to just do a demo.  This is like going to multiple car dealerships and test driving all different vehicles without first determining how you will use your vehicle.  Is it for commuting, or towing your boat?  Do you need room for kids, or is it just you and your dog?  By not determining how you want to use the software first, you will experience extra meetings, delayed selection process, potentially extra costs, and you will risk selecting the wrong solution.  If you don’t know what you need, how do you know what questions to ask or who to ask?

So how do you run a budgeting and planning software evaluation?  We will share the steps below:

How to Run a Budgeting and Planning Software Evaluation

1. Requirements Discovery (MOST IMPORTANT)

Lodestar Solutions’ recommendation is that you focus on doing proper Requirements Discovery before talking to vendors.  This requires starting with the end in mind. What are the strategic goals of the organization?  What information is needed to help accomplish those goals?  What type of reporting do you have today and want in the future?  What type of “what if” analysis will users desire?  What data sources are available?  What frequency do you want to update it daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly?  How do you anticipate the business will change in the next 3 years?  What type of solution is optimal, SaaS or On-Prem...?

Proper requirements discovery also requires getting feedback from various areas of the business.  You may start in finance, but the right solution will inspire you to connect all the different plans of the business-like marketing, sales, human resources…

To learn more about facilitating analytic discovery check out our blog – Facilitating Analytic Discovery for Success.

Lodestar Solutions’ Requirements Discovery Services:

Lodestars Solutions can help you not only complete a proper requirements discovery process, but we can also train your team to do so.  Planning systems are not supposed to be static.  As you have seen over the past two years, the world changes, your business changes, and you will want to periodically run an update requirements discovery process.  By empowering your teams by training them on requirements discovery and revisiting the discovery a couple times per year, you can ensure your models will not become outdated in the future, and you will save on expensive consultants.

2. Software Evaluation

Once the requirements have been defined it’s time for the software evaluation process.  Since you have a detailed list of what you need the software to do, you need to prioritize the functionality you desire. 

You should first evaluate your needs to the functionality of your current software.  So, call your software representative and set up a meeting to learn about the functionality in the latest release.  Your issue might just be you haven’t upgraded in a while.

You will want to provide all vendors you invite to participate in your software evaluation with the priority list and ask them to show the functionality on the list.  It is very important that you control the process, not the vendors.  If you fail to provide the detail list, vendors will show you what they think is their strengths, and you risk the software not being able to do what you need it to do.

In an effective software evaluation, you will control the process, not the vendors.  

Lodestar Solutions’ Software Evaluation Assistance

Lodestar Solutions does not formally run selection processes because we are a reseller of IBM Planning Analytics and running the process for a client and then pitching them on the benefits of IBM Planning Analytics lacks impartiality.  We can work with you and provide templates so that your team can easily run the software evaluation process.  Our goal is to assist in the software evaluation procedurally but let you run it.  The benefits of this are that your evaluation process is expedited and leverages templates that Lodestar has created after decades of working with clients.  The templates will help you save time and money.  Additionally, your team will learn techniques in evaluation that they can use when evaluating other software solutions.

Request for Proposals (RFPs) - I would be remised if I didn’t address RFPs.  At Lodestar Solutions we are not a big fan of the formal Request for Proposal process.  In the Planning Software space all the major players are going to be able to say yes, they can do what you need, but it’s how they do it that matters!  And RFP’s will never disclose that a certain functionality requires advanced coding to accomplish.  So, Lodestar Solutions recommends that you spend your time focusing more on the requirements and preparing for the evaluation than compiling a long list of questions and then compiling the results.

IBM Planning Analytics

A solution you should consider when choosing your budgeting and planning software is IBM Planning Analytics.  At Lodestar Solutions we are amazed at the new functionality IBM has been adding, and when designed properly, based on your requirements, IBM Planning Analytics is extremely flexible and robust!  Lodestar Solutions is available to share with you the power of IBM Planning Analytics.  But if you want more information check out these resources.

Gartner Peer Insights.

IBM Website

3. Negotiation

Once you have selected your top vendor it’s time to negotiate.  This process is very important as the savings you receive initially often will determine the annual rate in future years. 

Lodestar Solutions Negotiation Service 

Whether you choose IBM Planning Analytics or another software vendor, Lodestar Solutions can help you negotiate the price and terms of your purchase.  Because we have been selling software for decades, and we have in-house resources that teach negotiation classes to finance executives, we can assist in getting you the best deal.  With our Negotiation Services, you will learn our negotiation framework which will empower your teams to be more effective negotiators in the future.

4. Implementation

The implementation phase is the exciting phase!  This is where we get sh*t done!  Lodestar Solutions recommends a phased, agile approach to implementing, which we call our Business Analytics Agile Methodology (BAAM).  This means focusing on smaller chunks of the project and delivering results in small sprints. An Agile approach has been proven to be the most effective implementation methodology.

Lodestar Solutions’ Implementing IBM Planning Analytics

In the event during the software evaluation process, you determine IBM Planning Analytics is the best fit for you, the Lodestar Solutions team will work with you and your team to educate them on how Planning Analytics works, and the art of designing effective, flexible models.  Our goal is to make you self-sufficient, so that as you incorporate other areas of the organization like marketing or human resources, you can do so without pricey consultants.

Knowledge Transfer for Implementing an Alternatives Solutions

We appreciate that you may decide that another solution is a better fit for your needs.  If that is the case, Lodestar Solutions, will work with you and the implementation team for the software to transfer all the knowledge discovered in earlier steps.  Additionally, if you would like a Lodestar Solutions team member to periodically overview the process of the implementation team and serve as an accountability agent, we can do so.


We can’t stress enough the importance of the first Requirements Discovery phase when evaluating your budgeting and planning software.  By doing the discovery process properly you will deliver solutions your end users love, save valuable time in implementation, and save money on consulting services.  But most importantly you will ensure you select the correct software to meet your needs now and for years to come.

Lodestar welcomes the opportunity to discuss the next steps for your process.   

If you would like to receive our Software Evaluation Checklist which can be customized, click here.    

Additionally, here is a blog you may find beneficial – Software Selection Process.

Next Step

Email Lodestar to discuss the above and your specific project.

Do you like our content?  Want to keep updated with our blogs and posts?  
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PowerPoint Options Cognos and Planning Analytics

PowerPoint Options Cognos and Planning Analytics
PowerPoint Options Cognos and Planning Analytics
Written by Mike Bernaiche, June 23rd 2022

As someone who worked in finance and analytics for many years, I found myself having to update many different reports, often in PowerPoint, with financial numbers for management, board members and others.  It can be a time-consuming process of hand typing numbers, verifying they are correct and then updating all over again each month or quarter.  Did you know that there are PowerPoint options to automate this process?  I wish I knew about these PowerPoint options for Cognos and Planning Analytics many years ago.  One of the products for Cognos Analytics has been around a long time, the other product for Planning Analytics is new to market through a company called Intito (Intito – Solutions and services for smarter performance management), called Office Connect.  Below I will talk about both options.

IBM Cognos for Microsoft Office

IBM Cognos for Microsoft Office is a product that allows you to use Excel, Word and PowerPoint to import data directly into presentations or documents and have that data refresh at the push of a button. 

What is it?

  •  IBM® Cognos® for Microsoft Office provides the framework that leverages the business intelligence architecture, including security, metadata, and content storage.  This infrastructure helps you manage your Microsoft Office documents and monitor the financial performance of your organization.
  • Use the applications of IBM Cognos for Microsoft Office to create, view, and consume reports, analyses, and other business intelligence content using familiar Microsoft Office applications, such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word.

What Problems does it solve?

  •  The need to update PowerPoint presentations with data from Cognos Analytics or Planning Analytics (this is done by connecting your Planning Analytics cubes to Cognos Analytics) without having to copy and paste or hand type everything in.
  • Accuracy is important and you are nervous hand typing everything in each month.
  • When the closing process is complete you have very little time to update, and you are not into working nights and weekends.

The above examples show the Microsoft Office add-in and a resulting report once imported.  Every time the data updates in Cognos Analytics, you simply open the presentation and click the refresh data button and voila, your numbers have been updated.  Best news is, if you own Cognos Analytics you already own IBM Cognos for Microsoft Office. 

Intito Office Connect

Intito Office Connect is software that works directly with Planning Analytics and allows you to update data and report objects directly in PowerPoint with a few clicks of a button.  When I first saw this product, I was blown away and believe anyone who has presentation style reporting that needs to be updated each month should investigate purchasing this product.

By using Intito Office Connect you will save time, increase efficiency and accuracy, and spend more time analyzing and less time verifying numbers in a presentation.


Would you like to learn more about Intito Office Connect?  Reach out to us at  We have uploaded a demo that can be watched here.  I highly recommend checking this product out.  For years the only way to get Planning Analytics data into PowerPoint was either hand typing or connecting to Cognos Analytics.  With this option you can skip all of those steps and direct connect!


As you can see, I have provided two good PowerPoint options for Cognos and Planning Analytics.  Why not make your life easier and more automated?  Reach out to us at to discuss both PowerPoint options. 

Need to know what is new in Planning Analytics Workspace – check this out.

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 75 and 76 - Lodestar Solutions

What’s new in Cognos Analytics - What’s New in Cognos Analytics 11.2.2 - Lodestar Solutions

Developing KPIs Executives Use

Developing KPIs Executives Use
Developing KPIs Executives Use
Written by Heather L. Cole, June 16th 2022

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be more challenging than people think.   You create a Cognos or IBM Planning Analytics dashboard with the KPIs the company has been measuring and no one uses it.  People convince you to change the dashboard and someone else complains that it’s not meeting their needs.  As an analytic professional you start to feel like you are caught in the middle of a tug a war.  Today we will share Lodestar’s recommendations on developing KPIs executives use so you don’t get caught in the middle.

KPIs and the Strategic Goals

In last week’s blog, Create Support for KPIs Across the Organization we discussed that when defining KPIs you need to first start with the strategic goals of the organization, then ensure that you are engaging the right stakeholders from the very beginning and finally communicate the WHY.  If you did not read it go read it now, so you understand why strategic goals are so important in defining KPIs.

Steps for Developing KPIs for Cognos or Planning Analytics

  •  Start with Understanding the Strategy Goals and Initiatives of the organization
  • Define the stakeholders, the people that the organization needs to have strong relationships with to succeed. 
  • Facilitate a KPI discovery session (Facilitating Analytic Discovery for Success)
  • Define what you can monitor to make the relationship with the stakeholders stronger
  1. Ask the stakeholders themselves
  2. Engage your end users so they feel part of the process
  •  Identify your data needs & evaluate if you already have it
  1. IBM Planning Analytics can be a useful tool for calculating and collecting data you might need.
  •  Validate the measurement definition, calculation, and frequency
  • Share the WHY for the KPIs with the organization
  • Define how to communicate your KPIs 
  1.  Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics could be useful tools
  •  Review your KPIs quarterly to ensure they help improve performance

Common KPI Mistakes

Now that you have the basic steps, I want to share the common mistakes that can jeopardize your company’s future.

Not Evaluating Your KPIs Regularly

In the last 3 years the world has changed, your business has changed, and yet so many companies are still using the same dashboards and measures they defined years ago.  KPI’s are not intended to be static they should change as your business changes, as your employees change, as your suppliers and customers change.  At Lodestar Solutions, we coach our clients on hosting quarterly or at least semi-annual strategy sessions to identify how your Cognos Dashboards, KPIs and Planning Analytic models should change.  To learn more about hosting meetings check out our blog, Facilitating Analytic Discovery for Success.  

“What got you here won’t get you there!” 

Measure Everything

Another mistake is to create too many KPIs.  Hint the name says it all, they are Key performance indicators.  Not All performance indicators.  Start with what you believe best monitors the relationship with your stakeholders (as described in previous blog).  We are looking for the needle movers.  Things our teams can take actions on to improve the performance.  When you measure too many things, people don’t pay attention to any of them.  Remember if you are hosting regular strategy sessions you can change them.  Less is more.

Tying Bonuses to KPIs

Be very careful if you tie bonuses and incentives to performance on KPIs.  According to technology thought leader Bernard Marr, “The true purpose of a KPI is to help people inside the business know where they are in relation to where they want to be.  They act like a compass on a sea voyage.  But, once those KPIs are linked to incentives, they stop being a navigation tool and become a target an individual has to hit to secure their bonus.” 

I have seen this firsthand.  Prior to the real estate bust, I was working with a large Chicago home building designing an IBM Planning Analytics model.  Just prior to the crash we noticed that the number of spec homes was increasing significantly, which was odd as spec homes are the models used to help sell houses.  When we asked the CFO about it, he said, oh yeah that’s because we have had people back out of closings.  He then added we pay our project manager based on completions, so they keep building.  Fast forward the billion-dollar home building is no longer in existence.  I believe the warning signs were there, but the company didn’t act fast enough to change how people were paid.  Foundation Crumbles on Kimball Hill homes.

Get an Analytic Success Coach

Success leaves clues and there is a methodology of developing the KPIs executives use.  The above gets you started but if you want rapid success you may want to consider getting a coach to guide your thought the process.  Yes, there are analytic success coaches!  At Lodestar Solutions we work with clients to empower you and your teams to successfully facilitate analytic strategy sessions.  If you would like to learn more about how a coach can help you achieve success in weeks not years, email us at