only 12 percent of data collected is ever analyzed


Govloop shared this stat in a post last last week and it got my attention.  If someone had asked me for the percent of data analyzed vs. what's collected, I would have guessed less than 100 percent but wouldn't have gone that low.  

The other thing that struck me was that-- for as much time as my client and team spends thinking about data-- we'd never examined their issues with field-level buy-in, demonstrating progress, or general forecasting from that perspective. So, I think it's a great, highly quote-able stat.

Why I love it

It has shock value. Also, it came from a Forrester Research survey so it has credibility.  I did a little digging and found this reference on their site for more information.  It's unclear if this report on hadoop contains the survey data but if you're interested in the exact citation, that would be a place to start.

Here's an excerpt... "In a recent Forrester survey, technology execs and decision-makers ranked data-related projects at the top of their list for importance and investment. Why? Companies seek deeper insights from the massive amount of data at their disposal but estimate that they are analyzing only 12% of the data that they already have, leaving 88% of it on the cutting-room floor."

How you might use it

If you work with data-- and, really, who doesn't-- you can use this reference in two ways.  

  1. From an analytics perspective: Use this single little stat to launch a review of the body of data you/your client collects. Consider the data fields you collect as an entity and asset unto itself. Pull the list of fields into a spreadsheet, then make tabs for all of your common report queries with the lists of fields they're pulling.  Calculate the stat for your organization.  From the stuff that isn't utilized, figure out quickly if you can stop collecting it or find a way in the next 3 months to use it.  I suspect that a lot of these fields aren't used because some people are populating them and others aren't.  So there is no confidence that the data is sufficiently complete to be relied upon for any analysis.  To overcome this, just keep what you can use in the near-term and let folks off the hook for collecting everything else.
  2. From a communications perspective: Take this stat and the one you calculated for your organization and share this in your next leadership meeting. Outline your plan for increasing the use select fields and plan to sunset everything else. Both scenarios represent a win in data use and time savings for data elimination.

lucky how

Today is a fun day to dig out the least hideous green stitch in your closet, recall the days when you made it out to a bar on a "school night", and think about luck. At work, we think about luck in terms of a chance meeting with a prospective client, the inside scoop what a hiring manager is really looking for (usually not technical skills), or finding a Starbucks gift card in your wallet with $9.87 still on it.  Awesome.

Another way people talk about luck is in the context of job happiness-- "I'm so lucky to have found this job, this team, this client assignment because I'm feeling really good about the work I'm doing. " Luck is characterized as unplanned and definitely un-manipulated. But is there a way to set yourself up to invite more luck in?  I think so.

Job happiness is inextricably linked to how we work—not what we do. When we're feeling restless at work, we assume it's a what issue and say things such as, "I just haven't found my calling, or purpose, or reason to keep coming in and putting up with this craziness!"

In fact, we spend so much time exploring our passions and researching worthy causes that it's become a niche industry unto itself. There are a sea of books, coached processes, and retreats all aimed at finding the what.  The reality is that there are so many to choose from any one of them would be awesome.

So, instead of chasing after something so elusive or hoping it just finds us—we need to look at how we work, evaluate what is causes us to slow down, get stuck, or accept a non-update update.  We need to end the distractions, the chaos, the confusion, and infuse focus into our days.  We do that through attacking the how—not the what. Good luck.

Women In Facilities Roundtable at NFMT 2015

photo courtesy of Ballistic Furniture, @BallisticFS

What do you get when you put 100+ women and (smart) men in a room to chat about women in facilities?  A high-energy, fun event with lots of positive ideas exchanged. 

Panelists included Tina Reistma from Sodexo, Theresa Olson from Fannie Mae, and moi! :)  Here's a high-level summary of the discussion moderated by the very talented Naomi Millan. (Photo courtesy of Ballistic Furniture, @BallisticFS)

- What are some of the smartest things women can do to advance their careers?
Being open to new opportunities.  Even when the challenge seemed daunting or you fear you’ll be in way over our head, you have to try and absolutely take chances. You can worry about backing off later if you need to.  Once you jump in, you only have to worry about the issue right in front of your face in the beginning.  If you’re fixated on the enormity of the challenge, new stuff is too overwhelming.

- What are some of the challenges or missteps you have observed along the way?
At times, women are too risk averse.  At others, they’re trying to be someone that they’re not. One example is when new managers are feeling pressure coming from a boss or client. Under stress, new managers sometimes go too far to the extreme or too heavy handed with giving feedback, setting unrealistic deadlines, and not listening when people brought issues up. The telltale attitude is, “yeah, everyone is busy just get your shit done.  I don’t want to hear it.”  
When this happens over a period of time, morale drops and staff may feel no other option than to leave the team. Watching people walk out is so hard—and feeling responsible for their bad experience is a bad place to be. You can avoid this mistake by remaining true to yourself, being honest with your team about the stresses and challenges you’re feeling, and find support in your leadership and network.

- What credentials, training, organizations, etc. have proven to be most helpful to you and why?
There is so much available today.  NFMT is a prime example of the availability of positive, broad, quality content and opportunities. In addition to technical trainings and conference, broad leadership, strategic thinking, and managerial programs are excellent.  Take advantage of anything and everything your organization has to offer.

- In speaking with FM professionals, many seem to have had a moment of reckoning where they realized they were leaders, and they realized they wanted to lead in a certain way. Has this happened for you and what has that meant in your careers?
Yes! Have you ever had the feeling of being part of a team and all of a sudden you look around and realize you’re it. There is no net.  You’re just doing it.  It can make your heart jump for second when you really reflect on the level of responsibility you have.  Then you just get back to work. We have all hit this point a couple of times.  

Many of us are happiest being very hands on. The belief that teams are most effective when they’re working in a positive environment should be spread across all kinds of organizations. Further, working to provide every possible piece of information to your staff on the issues and challenges you’re facing as a team only empowers them to make better decisions and prioritize what stuff they bring you to arbitrate.

- How do you judge that a position is a good fit for you? How do you identify when it is no longer a good fit (here with an eye to trend of women being overly loyal to one position). How do you identify and prepare for that next step?
Many women do fall in the bucket of loyalty (sometimes to a fault) to one organization, boss, client, etc.  One key question to ask yourself is, “am I still learning something?”  When the answer was no, reach out for new stuff.  In facilities consulting, this rarely means that you shed past responsibilities. Instead, you just pick up more stuff. That’s ok to a point because it brings new time management challenges, new relationships, new issues, new staff, and so on.
When you’re truly ready to move on, you’ll notice a number of pieces falling into place. Any misalignment with the organization’s strategic direction or the messages coming out of leadership can be big indicators. Further, when you don’t see a path for yourself and you’ve checked your perspectives and observations against your network, you’ll know when it’s time.
To prepare for that, there are some tactical things about shoring up your network that you need to do.  There are also some personal and emotional things you need to consider.  The first is just anticipate some amount of disorganization and loneliness in the beginning. Before you even leave, line up some familiar touch-base coffees or lunches to help you through the first couple of months.

- What roadblocks do you see women setting up for themselves, and how should these be avoided/overcome?
These aren’t unique to women. A ton of men do them too. One big roadblock that staff unintentionally put up for themselves is talking about the wrong things to the wrong people. We need absolute alignment between the issues we’re bringing up with the person we’re talking to—and we have to put in their context. Oversharing on family issues or reason you need to be out of the office are prime examples. Of course, at times having a conversation about personal issues is necessary with a direct supervisor or manager.  But these shouldn’t be a recurring theme or part of your brand.  Keep your every conversation that you can focused on the client’s issue, business problem, staff’s needs, etc.

- Do you have any advice/tips for effectively negotiating career/pay/benefits? 
If someone comes in with facts—ideally from data they have sourced externally or from an appropriate internal source—and are able to put what they want to do in the context of our larger business, that’s great.  When the manager feels manipulated or threatened, it’s a huge turn-off and a short-term strategy, at best.

- What do you see the industry doing to attract and develop women, is it working, and what should be done better?
Events like this are great.  The other thing we can do is focus on the women already in facilities within our organizations.  Help them envision a path so they stay and don’t leave for greener pastures.  There are oodles of juicy technical, strategic, and management problems to solve.  Second only to maybe healthcare, facilities is something that is growing—it’s not going away.






better next week, vacation edition

We're closing out a chilly, sunshine-y ski vacation in Colorado. It's been a great trip to clear my head on a number of fronts. Here are a couple of things I've been reading and reflecting on this week.

  • Professional coaching is a perq most often offered formally as we grow within our organizations and informally through project managers and mentor circles when we're new. Ed Batista share some ways of working with each other in this piece that would help integrate the best of coaching into all of our professional interactions.  Good stuff.
  • Something has been lost in the tug-of-war between titling managers versus leaders. We need both, we need to be both, and the trend to grow and encourage leadership should run in parallel with the same development emphasis for management. This is an interesting piece in that it helps define these terms and traits which is helpful as we try to pinpoint exactly what we want to see in our colleagues, staff, and executives.
  • Updated guidelines on nutrition don't have much to do with organizational impact but what's interesting is the ability of research and popular opinion to push long-awaited updates to federal food recommendations. An example that it's OK to change positions when we know more.

Have a great weekend!

better next week

This week was a blur. I was pushing projects to a logical hand-off so we can leave for our ski vacation next week with a clear conscience. Done! Well, done-ish.  

In between draft finals and final drafts, here what I was reading and loving this week.  Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Office housework, what?! Don't you love it when someone assembles a couple of words into a phrase that perfectly captures the issue?  That's what Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg did for me in this piece in the New York Times.

I'll stop what I'm doing for writing tips anytime, anywhere. Isla McKetta's article on the Moz Blog is just awesome--  bookmark-worthy for reading again and again. I'll admit that it gives me heart palpitations, though.  There is so much to think about and incorporate at once that I decided to pick one or two things for each big report/deliverable and start there. The next one, I'll pick two more and so on. In the meantime, I'll keep my favorite editor on speed dial (hey, remember when that was a thing?!)

Ok, I'm a big, sappy nerd.  I watched this twice in a row. Maybe because the National Park Service is my favorite client, maybe because I got engaged in a national park nine years ago this weekend, or maybe because I've sworn off chocolate (temporarily) and it's making me emotional. Whatever the reason, this video is just so sweet.

better next week

Shiver. It's still cold, cold, cold here in DC. How are you? How was your week? Mine was good-- some steady progress on a couple of projects and a big WOW from a client on another that still has me beaming. I'm extra proud of my team and their unwavering commitment to trying new things and creating beautiful, meaningful products.

Here are a couple of my favorite articles from the week.  

  • This message came across so loud and clear with me that Stew Friedman might as well have been reading it into a megaphone next to my desk. One to read, think about, reread, then make some changes.
  • The proposed federal pay raise seems like a lot of fuss over a itty bitty percentage but, of course, it adds up across the federal workforce. Isn't there a way to reinvest some of the funds unspent due to retirements in revamping parts (or all!) of the hiring, grading, and promotion process-- or even to set some strategic goals?
  • Many are on a quest to improve public speaking skills and will try anything-- evidence of that phenomenon here. Improv camp might not be desirable or realistic for most of us but there are some solid tips to take-away.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!


call me maybe

This afternoon, GSA hosted a call to go over President Obama’s 2016 budget that included significant increases for public buildings. I had a free 30 minutes so why not listen in?  I'm glad I did but not because I learned a ton about GSA. The format itself is interesting though.

Here's my summary of the call.

Administrator Dan Tangherlini, Deputy Administrator Denise Turner-Roth, and Commissioner of the Public Building Service, Norm Dong read prepared statements. See the internally prepared summary here and an external one here. For three normally suave, engaging professionals, a couple of stumbles made it sound as if they were seeing some of the content fresh off the printer.

To start, they reviewed the budget request and sprinkled loads of words like transparency, efficiency of internal operations, innovation, cutting edge, vital/critical investments (said probably 8 times), etc. They highlighted a couple of points on savings over the last couple of years that resulted from some building closings/consolidations, changing up their approach to staffing, and decreasing space allocations per staff in federal buildings. I heart efficiencies too!

They talked a little bit about St. Elizabeth’s cost reductions (established $1 billion if I heard this correctly) that resulted from crashing the schedule. Curious to know how that's going to work. They also mentioned new courthouse construction in Tennessee and safety repairs in Fort Lauderdale. Oh yeah, I always forget that there are lots of federal buildings outside of DC. And, of course, they've starting planning for new investments in 2016.

They then opened it up for questions. Needless to say, this is a little awkward—even with a moderator who unintentionally interrupted the Administrator. Here are the highlights...

  • There were several random questions from people wanting to say their name/organization out loud, “long time listener, first time caller” types.  Sorry, if your question is on where you might find agency information on the internet, Google seems like a better starting point than the agency's top three executives but whatever.
  • They then had one from GAO that prompted a big “only if we get the money” caveat from their earlier statements. 
  • They answered some questions on how they prioritize projects which is largely customer-driven because of their reimbursable model.

The three emphasized that a key point of their budget is building in transparency on the amount of rent they collect—an important initiative driven by the Administration. They’re eager to continue demonstrating how they reinvest the rents collected into improving the building efficiency including energy.

There was a good question on getting the proceeds from the sale of assets in disposition. It sounds like whether or not they get the money depends so they’re moving towards an exchange model where they can get services instead of money.

In sum, the fact that they host this call at all is interesting. They open these conference lines up to the public from time to time. It's a curious communication technique because the information is, by design I'm sure, very high-level and directly supports the budget request. There really is never anything new shared or insider information offered. I'm curious to know who this scores brownie points with-- their examiner, their internal staff, their clients, their vendors? Does your agency or client do something similar?  

Curious to know what other tactics people are using to build support this time of year-- especially given the big unknowns with this Congress.


better next week

Good week, hard week, just whatever? Whether you accomplished more or less than you planned, here are some pieces to simmer on for a better* next week.

  • Believing in awesome begets awesome.  Awesome. Some research from Harvard Business Review worth reading before the next time you cross paths with your staff.
  • Federal program managers will have to get creative if they want to pull ideas from this article on improving customer service. My main take-away is this. The served community has access to many channels to provide feedback. Finding ways to embrace all of those and integrate them into our processes-- as opposed to forcing one channel- is the single greatest way to improve service.
  • More scientific evidence supporting what we already know. Women rock! ;)

Have a great weekend!