Are you an Outback Steakhouse analyst?

At the Outback, they try to promote a laid-back and personal experience. The waiters are friendly and willing to do what it takes to make you happy and enjoy your experience. And when they take your order, they sit right down in your booth with you, plop their notepad down on the table, walk you through the specials, and maybe even strike up a conversation before taking your order and bringing you the drinks you wanted.

Some very hungry and impatient patrons may just think, “Get on with it, I just want a steak and an 8,000 calorie onion. Take my order, give me what I want, and I’ll be on my way.”

Sound familiar?

We analytics people have been fighting hard to get our seat at the table. We want to burst into the executive suite with all of our knowledge, insight, and provable or defendable ideas, join the decision makers, and show them how valuable we can be in helping set the direction of the……wait for it…..web site (hint: we should be talking about the business, not the web site — the web site is a tool for the business).

But a lot of the time, we don’t even get to do this. The executives scooch over in their booth, let us sit down and take their order, we bring back some steaming hot reports, sizzling like fajitas, and we disappear as they digest the data meal we just served and decide what they want to do next. We bring them the bill for our services, and they don’t ask for us to participate until they are again hungry for the specific type of meal we serve at Analytics Steakhouse.

Think about this in your own work: are you sitting down at the executive table as a waiter, or are you a diner? And also remember that it’s hard to become a diner if you start out as a waiter. You earn a reputation for the types of things you do in your work; you set a precedent. If you want to be a diner, you need to start acting like one from the beginning. Don’t serve data or insight or even recommendations. Serve action. Be the one who is conducting the orchestra, not just another player in a chair. You have the data and the know how to pick up your little stick and start getting the various specialist roles to play in symphony. Do that and then tell the execs how it works and how it can work better.

And don’t eat those onions, they’re terrible for you.

1 Trackbacks

  1. By Never Eat Alone « SPECTAPROD on April 6, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    […] Evan recently made a clever analogy between web analysts (and our discipline in general) and servers… The analogy was suddenly important while I enjoyed lunch with Tony Bradshaw today. […]

One Comment

  1. A little short, but conceptually I agree. Another side to the same coin; should we as analysts be worried about being at the table, or having someone at the table who is an evangelist for Analytics? The kind of person who knows to order something that will satisfy everyone, like it’s their first trip to a sushi restaurant.

    Posted March 21, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

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