Written by Heather L. Cole, April 28th 2022
Are you looking for more time to deliver analytics? Maybe your team is short staffed, and you are doing the work of 2-3 people. I get it! I have been in that race, and it can be stressful. So, I must ask you, have you ever taken a step back and asked yourself, “How can I be more effective in my role delivering analytics to my organization?” We spend so much time moving through the motions, responding to urgent requests from executives and yet what if we just stopped and took a few steps back and say can I be more effective? When I did this as an IBM Cognos consultant, I realized I needed to learn how to be better at facilitating analytics discovery for success.
Time to Become More Effective
Think about it. If you had a crystal ball and could identify exactly what your executives wanted, if you could not only read their mind but help them determine what they want, you would be so effective. No more building reports and dashboards people don’t use. No more scrambling as they changed their minds daily. You would have executives calling you to meet with you as they strategically plan the growth of the organization.
What is Facilitation?
Facilitation is the act facilitating or act of making easier according to Merriam -Webster dictionary. So, facilitating analytics discovery is the act of making analytics discovery easier. Who wouldn’t want to know how to do that better? Note I use the word discovery and not requirements gathering intentionally. You see at Lodestar Solutions we believe users often don’t know what they want. So, there’s nothing to gather until you help the users discover what’s possible and what they would benefit from.
I am guessing you have taken a few training programs on how to use Cognos, Tableau, Qlik, Power BI or other solutions. So, you know how to build reports. Maybe you even are working on an advanced degree in Business Analytics from a school like University of South Florida here in Tampa. But how much time have you spent learning how to do proper discovery? How much time have you spent learning to facilitate an effective meeting?
It's okay if you haven’t! Most people in our industry, haven’t. It’s rare I see a consultant or analytic professional skilled at facilitating discovery sessions. The good news, however, is that you can learn it!
For me I had been working in the industry for years, before I realized I was great at inspiring and motivating clients, but I would meet with clients and ask what are you doing today? My goal was to simplify and automate the manual processes they had already defined.
Facilitation of Analytic Discovery Experts
But one day, I took that step back and challenged myself! I asked what do the experts in facilitation of analytic discovery do? You know what I learned? I didn’t know anyone good at it. I could not think of a single role model in this area. Who do you know that is fabulous at leading a thought-provoking discussion for executives around analytics? Are you drawing a blank too?
After facing the hard fact that facilitation and discovery are not commonly taught, and that most of us wing it, I decided it was time to take action. I started down my professional development journey of learning about and teaching classes in facilitation, influence, presentation techniques, and psychology of teams. I certified in Scrum and I began to implement what I learned.
The results were amazing!
Benefits of Learning Facilitation.
- Clients and their teams gained clarity.
- Executives gain confidence in the teams and engaged more.
- End Users become part of the solutions and end user adoption increased.
- Projects were more rewarding and gained visibility at the top levels of the organization.
- The duration to delivery for projects shrunk.
- And clients saved a lot of money.
But the biggest win for our clients was that they were empowered to host their own internal discovery sessions, because the world is changing, your business is changing and analytic discovery is not a one and done process.
When Business Analytic Professionals learn to facilitate analytic discovery for success they will help lead the organization and help transformation. Regardless of if you are on a BI team, or in Finance this is your time to lead. For finance professionals you should see our earlier blog, Finance Must lead Business Transformation Before Someone Else Does.
You are Not Alone!
My journey to be come an Analytics Leader with the skills in Facilitating Analytic Discovery sessions was a very long and expensive journey. I traveled the world attending personal development conferences, joining masterminds, reading books. But it doesn’t have to take you that long!
Lodestar Solutions, Inc. is creating a new program that is designed specifically for analytic professionals! This will be a virtual workshop, where you learn proven methods to facilitate analytic discovery. Keep an eye out for our announcement coming soon. If you find this interesting email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your challenges.