Analysis | The Brainzooming Group - Part 3 – page 3

Question-MarksAs a market researcher, conducting new market research is typically NOT my first recommendation for answering a question.

There are multiple reasons for my reluctance to push the new market research button.

Chief among them is market research often asks respondents to speculate about what they might do relative to a product concept that may or may not exist, with a description that may or may not represent the concept accurately or in a way the respondent would actually perceive it.

Said simply, a helluva lot of market research is so speculative you can’t use it nearly as definitively as you might like.

7 Things to Pursue Before Conducting New Market Research

Instead of jumping right to market research as the first option to get a sense of what your customers want or think, seek out:

  1. Research reports and business articles from external sources related to your area of interest
  2. Internal data that contains at least some of the component pieces for the answers you’re seeking
  3. Data based on actual customer behaviors in comparable situations
  4. Experts (internal or external) with working hypotheses or models related to the topic under study
  5. Previously conducted research that demonstrates methodological lessons you need to understand
  6. Stronger reference points for the concept you want to test based on actual or virtual prototypes
  7. Logic, strategy, and experience-based scenarios to frame the potential answers you should expect through primary research

This is just a starting point.

Pursuing the right strategic thinking before conducting new market research will get you better inputs and greater efficiency for your market research investment. – Mike Brown


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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I avoid politics here on Brainzooming, so this isn’t a political guest post. It’s a customer experience strategy lesson post from customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle. Woody weighs in today on how to avoid your own high profile customer experience management issues based on learnings from the roll out of Here’s Woody!


woody-bendle3 Customer Experience Strategy Lessons in the Launch by Woody Bendle

Last month, one of the most highly anticipated recent website launches, became one of the largest customer experience failures ever. Aside from the many technical design and architecture deficiencies, provides three key Customer Experience Management (CEM) lessons.

  1. Do not underestimate peak demand
  2. Do not go live without stress-testing peak demand
  3. Have backup plans for worst case scenarios

Let’s dive in to these three lessons.

Lesson 1 – Do not underestimate peak demand!

HealthcaredotgovThis is a blinding flash of the obvious, but if you don’t understand your possible peak demand, really bad things can happen.  Like millions of really unhappy people wasting hours staring at a 404 error page, and all sorts of really bad press resulting in plummeting approval ratings.

Within minutes of go-live, came to a screeching halt.  Why?  One contributing reason was a gross underestimation of how many people might visit the website its first day.

The thing is, figuring out a possible maximum peak demand for the ACA website isn’t hard – there are multiple scenarios for estimating it.

For an upper bound, we could naïvely assume every one of the roughly 240 million people in the US over the age of 18 could possibly visit the site on day one.

Since this is highly unlikely, what would be reasonable? How about the number of people without insurance now required to have insurance?

According to a September news release from the Census Bureau an estimated 48 million people in the US did not have health insurance in 2012 (including 6.6 million children under 18).  That translates to forty-one or forty-two million uninsured US adults legally required to obtain healthcare. It’s possible – although not probable – they could all decide to visit the website day one.

Another consideration is not everyone in the US has Internet access.  The Pew Center reports that 15% of US adults don’t use the internet, leaving approximately 35 million uninsured US adults with internet access who just might visit on day one.  But, even this isn’t all that likely given America’s second favorite pastime (after baseball) is procrastination.

Cyber Monday, one of the busiest Internet traffic days annually,  provides another estimate of potential peak demand. According to Experian Hitwise, had the highest Cyber Monday traffic volume in 2012 with nearly 39 million visits, was second with nearly 19 million visits, and followed with just over 9 million site visits. While it is unlikely the launch would be met with amazon-type traffic its first day, it is nonetheless remotely possible.

How much demand peak demand should they have planned for with on day one?  Apparently, way more than they did.

This leads us to our second key Customer Experience lesson.

Lesson 2 – Do not go live without stress-testing peak demand

From the Experian statistics, it is clearly possible to handle millions of site visitors on a single day.  Companies are already designing and supporting websites to handle massive amounts of daily site traffic. That crashed immediately upon launch strongly indicates the team could not have performed stress testing anywhere near possible peak site demand levels.

The worst part though, according to comScore, is only about 2.5 million people actually visited on its first day using PCs.  And, since roughly 20% of all Internet traffic comes via mobile devices, potentially only 3 million people in total attempted to visit its first day.  If each person attempted to visit the site twice, due to technical hiccups, it might have received between 5 to 6 million visits its first day. This certainly is not a big traffic day by modern Internet standards. But, still crashed – creating millions of frustrated customers and placing a dark cloud of skepticism over the entire ACA program.

This leads me to one final lesson from the launch.

Lesson 3 – Have backup plans for worst-case scenarios

If were any other other website, hundreds of millions of people globally might not know what a colossal failure its launch was.  It isn’t just any other website; it is perhaps the most highly anticipated, highly visible (not to mention, legally mandated for millions of currently uninsured US adults) website launches in history!

Should you be responsible for such a website, there are two critical questions to ask and reliably answer:

  1. What’s the worst that could happen?
  2. What are we going to do if the worst thing actually happens?

Horrible customer experiences are very difficult to recover from successfully.  The growing widespread knowledge of horrible customer experiences, such as the launch, makes these situations even more challenging!  I’m certain there are more than a few in Washington who agree right now.  But if you plan for worst-case scenarios, you can proactively attempt to minimize (and possibly even recover from) the damage done due to underestimating and under-testing peak user demand.

The Final Word? Hardly

In the immortal words of Dwight D. Eisenhower: “In preparing for battle [or the launch of the marketplace] I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Woody Bendle


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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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November 10 is the anniversary of the Brainzooming blog’s launch, introducing our strategic thinking manifesto, which originally appeared as the first five Brainzooming blog articles.

The Brainzooming strategic thinking manifesto is the foundation of our business philosophy and how we are creating strategic impact for clients. Yet when it was published at the blog’s launch, there was no other Brainzooming content online to which we could link key concepts.

Now, several years into writing daily articles on strategy, creativity, innovation, and social media, there is ample online content elaborating on the Brainzooming concepts strategic thinking manifesto introduced. To mark this year’s anniversary of the blog and launching The Brainzooming Group, it’s time to re-share the manifesto. This updated version includes supporting links and updates to reflect the learning and growth from The Brainzooming Group client work since our launch.

Creating Strategic Impact – The Updated Brainzooming Manifesto

Dilbert-ThinkerPreparing our original presentation on cultivating strategic thinking, current literature suggested a significant gap between senior management expectations and the impact from strategic thinking. Senior leaders have strong expectations about their employees’ abilities to think strategically and how much time their senior teams should spend on strategic issues. One survey reported senior leaders expected to spend 1/3 of their time on strategic issues. Another survey found though that senior teams self-report spending less than 1 hour per month, if any time at all, on strategic issues.

Why the discrepancy?

We repeatedly see one or more of these reasons present in organizations struggling with strategic impact:

Through meaningfully changing strategic thinking perspectives, it’s possible to address each of these gaps, and involve many individuals throughout an organization into clearly beneficial strategic thinking roles with great results.

Defining Strategic Thinking Simply

One reason strategic thinking doesn’t take place is there isn’t a clear understanding of what strategic thinking is. As a result, ill-fated attempts to be “strategic” fall short, creating a reluctance to broadly address strategy.

The Brainzooming Group starts with a simple definition for strategic thinking: Addressing Things that Matter with Insight & Innovation.

There are three important elements in the definition to  shape productive strategic thinking and invite greater participation and results.

“Things that Matter” – Strategic thinking focuses on fundamental opportunities & issues driving the business, not on far away things irrelevant to creating strategic impact. Successfully focusing on things that matter implies being able to:
  • Understand the Overall Business & Direction – What’s important to the business and its customers – past, present, & future? There are various questions whose answers identify this, but one of the best is, “What are we trying to achieve?” You can always return to this question to re-set a discussion stuck in the weeds.
  • Recognize there are Multiple Strategic Viewpoints – What’s strategic differs on whether your view is company-wide, departmental, functional, or personal. While the strategic views within an organization should be interconnected, what’s strategic will differ between senior management and a specific department. Because of this, it’s vital to clearly identify which view your strategic thinking is addressing.
  • Take “Time” Out of Your Definition of Strategic – Strategic issues can take place this afternoon just as easily as in the future; just because something won’t come to pass for years doesn’t necessarily make it strategic. If you don’t realize this, you’ll never address strategic discussions because pressing issues (which may be hugely strategic) are viewed as tactics requiring immediate solutions – and thinking seems to slow things down, thwarting progress.
  • Use Strategic Thinking Exercises Intended to Creatively Tackle Challenging Issues – Using strategic thinking exercises helps neutralize traditional (potentially biased) perspectives, reducing unproductive politics and blind spots stifling creating strategic impact.

“Insight” – Strategic thinking starts with relevant insights gained from inside and outside the organization. Combining and analyzing diverse information allows you to identify relationships leading to creating strategic impact. You can start by assessing your strategic position in new and different ways through robust strategic thinking exercises.

“Innovation” – One of the best approaches to anticipate future relevant events is considering multiple perspectives and exploring a full range of possibilities that may develop. Simple question-based exercises foster a more innovative look at the business.

Awakening Strategic Thinking

If senior managers are the only ones sanctioned to think strategically in an organization, there is a real problem. A company’s senior team tends to view the world in a relatively homogenous manner – from having shared experiences to holding a common perspective on the company and the market. Shaking up that sameness and familiarity is vital.

Great strategic thinking springs from diverse perspectives, cultivated and managed toward a view of the current & future business environment that increases the likelihood of creating strategic impact. Achieving this means spreading strategic thinking responsibility throughout the business.

Here are some fundamentals for accomplishing this:

Keep track of who is thinking and how they think – In bringing people together for strategic thinking, make sure three vital perspectives are represented with people that have:

  • Solid, front-line business experience (to help frame business issues)
  • Broad functional knowledge (with an understanding of capabilities)
  • Creative energy (acting as catalysts to view things in new & unconventional ways)

Invest time in productive thinking – Create and protect time for strategic thinking. This requires a willingness to invest dedicated time to consider many possibilities, to narrow focus to the best ones, and then develop & implement the best strategies. Focused time helps create an environment where people can selectively turn off conventional wisdom, triggering many more possibilities.

Use structure to increase output and efficiency – In initial phases, brainstorming techniques help productively manage how people with varied perspectives can increase the number of ideas generated very efficiently. Some starting principles include:

New Types of Strategic Thinking Tools

A challenge with standard strategic planning approaches is people are familiar with standard strategic planning questions and answers. Additionally, if people are entering strategic planning with long histories inside an organization, they know the expected answers to standard strategic planning questions.

Aligned with typical areas addressed during strategic planning, here are some of the alternative paths The Brainzooming Group uses to reach vital insights leading to creating strategic impact.

Combo-ExercisesStrengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

Vital Trends and Innovative Directions

Setting Priorities

Creating Strategic Impact

Strategic thinking often falls short because specific outcomes are difficult to trace to original strategic thinking or planning effort.

Beyond approaches covered previously to focus strategic thinking, broaden participation, and increase its rigor, a several principles can help create more tangible outcomes.

Creating-a-Strategic-ImpactBe prepared with a rigorous prioritization approach – Frequently, 5 to 15% of the possibilities from a strategic thinking session have near-term development potential or strong relevance. A great first pass prioritization approach is to approximate the number of ideas your team has generated and divide it by 5 to arrive at 20% of the ideas. Divide this total by the number of participants; the result represents how many ideas each person will be able to select based on their belief in an idea’s strength and/or potential.

Let participants start narrowing – With their individual idea “allowances” set, participants can begin selecting ideas that they’ll take through the prioritization process. Ideas chosen can be their own or those of others. The important thing is that participants believe in the ideas they select.

After each team member selects ideas, have them make an initial assessment of each idea using the following questions – What are the idea’s strengths? What are the idea’s weaknesses? What’s unexpected or unusual about the idea relative to the status quo? What’s your initial recommendation about how the idea could be addressed? It’s beneficial to share these initial thoughts aloud to familiarize group members with previously overlooked ideas.

Perform individual ranking with group input – Following the initial report-out, use a 4-box grid to allow individuals to place their ideas relative to two dimensions:

  • Potential Impact – On a scale from Minimal to Dramatic
  • Implementation Ease – On a scale from Easy to Difficult

Brainstorming-Session-Contribute-to-SuccessOnce individuals have placed ideas on the grid, talk through each one to see what support or challenges exist within the group. Typically, team members will overstate the number of easy to implement ideas expected to have dramatic impact. If true, these ideas are very attractive, but often they’ll have less impact or may be more difficult to implement than originally suspected.

Don’t be afraid to consider moving an idea if there’s a clear view from the group that it’s stronger or weaker than its original placement. The result of this combined individual-group exercise should be a much more refined set of ideas, with a good deal of input to set the stage for selecting a few ideas that will be pursued further for development.

Keep track of what’s left over – It pays to track ideas that aren’t selected initially. These often resurface later and it’s nice to be able to tie them back to the strategic thinking efforts that you’ve been conducting.

From Strategic Thinking to Creating Strategic Impact

Ideally you are better prepared to cultivate strategic thinking as a precursor to creating strategic impact in your department or business. Subscribe to the Brainzooming blog, seek ongoing learning, and schedule time soon for fruitful strategic thinking! And if you need ehlp to start or deliver results, let us know. We’d love to help you in creating strategic impact. – Mike Brown


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Customer experience and innovation expert Woody Bendle  is here on the Brainzooming blog to share a great approach for recycling the customer feedback program data that’s sitting in organizations with incredible innovation potential . . . for those who are savvy enough to take advantage of it. Here’s Woody!

Recycling Customer Feedback Program Data for Innovation by Woody Bendle

Recycling Customer Feedback DataDoes your organization have a Customer Experience Management (CEM) program?  Are you currently measuring and monitoring Customer Satisfaction (CSat)? Do you have a customer support center receiving and responding to customer feedback through phone calls, emails and letters?  Do you have a Facebook fan page where customer feedback comes via posts about themselves and your company?  Do you have customers talking about you on Twitter or on blogs?

If you said yes to any of these customer feedback scenarios, you’re probably already holding the keys to your company’s next innovation opportunity!


Many of you have likely made substantial investments in obtaining, monitoring and leveraging customer feedback through CEM, CRM or CSat programs.  Each customer feedback program can create tremendous value for your organization by providing timely and actionable consumer insights related to your customers’ interactions with your associates and brand.

But what you might not realize is that this exact same customer feedback data can be leveraged for innovation.

Innovation is the process of creating new (and differentiated) customer value in the marketplace, which can create a sustainable competitive advantage.  This process has three phases (Identify, Innovate, and Implement) and each phase has three steps:

The most critical step in the innovation process is identifying unmet or under-served consumer needs.  Unfortunately however, this is where so many innovation efforts go awry – that is, right at the very beginning!  And let me tell you, when you screw up the beginning, it’s pretty much all down hill from there.

Do you realize that 80%+ of all new products launched each year fail?  This is beyond absurd; it is down right irresponsible and completely unnecessary!  The reason for this massive failure rate is because organizations either don’t understand the importance of addressing unmet consumer needs or they simply don’t care to take the time to identify their customers’ unmet or underserved needs.   And this where your existing CEM, CRM and C-Sat customer feedback program comes into play.

It’s all about customer needs!

Let’s face it – the only reason your customers interact with your organization is because you satisfy one or more of their needs in some capacity.  By interacting with you, your customers are able to get through their day a little better than if they hadn’t (or at least that’s how you ought to be thinking about it).  And, when they reach out to your organization (either directly through you customer support center or your CSat program), they’re likely doing so because you have either exceeded, or have fallen short of satisfying one or more of their needs.  And while nobody likes to hear about how they’ve frustrated or disappointed customers, it is precisely in those circumstances that you need to pay closer attention because:

  1. They wouldn’t be sharing their opinions with you if they didn’t have a need that they were hoping you could or would satisfy (or satisfy better)
  2. They wouldn’t bother telling you what they thought if it were easy to get that need satisfied elsewhere, and
  3. They wouldn’t waste their time taking a survey or sending you an email if they didn’t care about the relationship they have with your organization.

It’s for all of these reasons that you should view your customer feedback system and data as a valuable innovation asset!

So while many of you are sitting on this incredible innovation asset, I’m guessing few of you have spent much time thinking about how to mine it for product, service and/or process innovation opportunities.  The good news is that you already have a ton of hugely valuable customer feedback data; and getting this data in the first place is the hardest and most expensive part!  With just a little additional effort, and perhaps some additional technology, you will find you are much closer to your next innovation opportunity than you realize.

In order to begin recycling customer feedback program data for innovation opportunities, you’ll want to employ a process where you:

8 Telltale Customer Feedback Phrases Identifying Unmet Customer Needs

To help kick-start your efforts, here are eight telltale phrases you will commonly encounter when customers are telling you how your organization is not adequately meeting their needs:

  1. Why is it that…?
  2. This is ridiculous…
  3. I don’t understand why…
  4. You would think that…
  5. How come every time I…?
  6. How am I supposed to…?
  7. I wish that…
  8. It’d be nice if…

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of phrases you’ll encounter once you begin mining and recycling customer feedback data for innovation opportunities, I’m betting you’ll be surprised by how often you actually encounter each of these phrases once you start digging in!  And hopefully, I’ve encouraged you to begin digging!

So what are you waiting for?  Let’s get innovating! – Woody Bendle


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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.


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Customer experience and innovation expert Woody Bendle  is back today with his big, big, big, big strategic insights on big data analytics. Here’s Woody!

Strategic Insights – Much Ado about Big Data Analytics by Woody Bendle

Big Data is HOT!

Look at this Google Trends search on “Big Data” from this past Saturday (August 08, 2013).  You don’t have to be a statistician or a Nobel Prize winning macro economist to see Big Data has been on an AMAZING upward trajectory since 2011!



There is no denying Big Data is in vogue right now. Some might even say it’s pretty darned sexy!  But, as someone whose been tackling ‘Big Data’ for more than 20 years, I have to ask, “What the heck’s the big deal?”  We’re just talking about data – albeit, more of it.

Look, Big is relative; and as long as you know what you’re doing, data size should not be an issue given the current state and price of computing technologies today.  This leads me to think there is something more to all of this ‘Big Data’ chatter than simply terabytes.

Perhaps all of the hoo-hah surrounding Big Data analytics has to do with the different types of data out there.

Big Data encapsulates A LOT of different data types ranging from good (accurate and reliable) to bad (wrong and inconsistent).  Big Data can also be structured (numbers, etc.) or unstructured (a video posted on YouTube with someone railing on your company).  Also, some Big Data reflect location (latitude and longitude or a check-in on FourSquare) as well as things happening over time.  WHEW!

And for good measure, I even have my own classification for the different types of data (Big or not) I regularly encounter – these are Woody’s data ABCs.

  1. Attitudinal – what people are thinking, feeling and saying (or trying to say)
  2. Behavioral – what people are doing, where, when, and how often
  3. Crap – no explanation needed here

So sure, I’ll admit it, Big Data can be pretty complicated and complex. But this is what data analysis has always been about – for years. This leads me to think there is still something more to this whole Big Data thing than just data size and data complexity.

This is something I’ve been thinking more about lately, and I tend to believe the big deal has to do with the confluence of a number of technological trends that surprisingly snuck up on a lot of people, as well as the fundamental laws of demand and supply.

Our New Hyper-Digital Era

On the technology side, we now live a new hyper-digital era where due to advancements in computing capacity and speed, data capture and storage in conjunction with rapidly decreasing costs, virtually every move we make throughout every living moment of our lives is registered digitally.  Billions of people all doing hundreds (or thousands) of different things every day – all captured and memorialized in some digital form in the cloud.

In addition, the Internet revolution has enabled all sorts of technological, consumer , and social innovations which now allow people to create and share more data in one day than many companies used to generate in a pre-digital era year!

Think about all of the data each of us create every day through emails, text messages, Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Yelp, WordPress, Blogger, etc.  And, not to mention the continual digital wake we leave behind with the GPS transmitters in our smartphones and cars.  All of these things individually and in combination generate more data than most of us can fathom – and certainly way more data than most in the business world are prepared to use.  And by use, I mean actually utilize in such a manner as to create new value for consumers, society, and businesses.

So, technological innovation is enabling the creation and storage of exponentially growing mountains of Big Data.  But this wouldn’t be happening if there weren’t market forces driving it.  That is, demand for Big Data led to the supply of it!

It always seems to come back to economics doesn’t it . . .

On the demand and supply side of things, we’re dealing with at least two different phenomena.  And this is where I think the real Big Data frenzy is stemming from.  The first is a case of being careful about what you wish for (because you just might eventually get it!); and the second is gross deficiency in the supply of analytical talent in the US.

You Asked for It

In terms of being careful about what you wish for, my sense is a lot of the Big Data issues many are living today probably involves a narrative similar to this:

1)     For years, the lack of data (or the costs associated with obtaining data) has been used as an excuse for not knowing (or being able to answer) something – if we only had more data

2)     Many, for whatever reason, erroneously believed that simply having more data would mean better and more valuable (insightful) data  –  these are probably the same people who believe you need to remove all of their blood in order to have a reliable blood test

3)     Over the past 15-20 years it has become amazingly cheap and easy to create and house A LOT of data.  As a result, there are now massive mountains of Big Data “out there” all over the place  – making the people using the old “if we only had more data” excuse pretty nervous

4)     Many (bosses, shareholders, government leaders, etc.) naïvely believe since Big Data is now relatively easy to capture and house, it also should be relatively easy and inexpensive to analyze  –  these are people who think Microsoft Excel is all anyone could ever possibly need to analyze anything – they also happen to be the same people who slept through their business calc and business stats courses and don’t know the difference between a T-Test and a T-Square (hint – one is used in carpentry)

5)     Very few people (in decision making capacities) have actually spent much any time thinking about the types of questions they want to be able to answer with Big Datalet alone how someone would actually go about answering them

6)     Even fewer people have spent much time thinking about how all of this Big Data should actually be configured.  That is, how it should be structured in order for it to be analyzed; thus enabling it to help answer all of these yet-to-be-defined business questions

7)     Many leaders are now nervously sitting on tons of Big Data and have come to the realization that they don’t have the right tools and/or the right talent within their organization to leverage their unwieldy Big Data asset

8)     Meanwhile senior leadership, boards and shareholders continue to wonder when all of the Big Data magic is going to begin! – I mean come on all ready would you! You’ve got all of this data that you’d been asking for; so do something with it already – and make us tons of money!  NOW!

In Search of Big Data Ninjas

This leads me to the second, and more problematic demand and supply issue surrounding Big Data – There simply aren’t enough well-trained Big Data analysts in the US labor market do anything of any value with all of this Big Data!

According to the US Department of Education, only about 10% of the 1.6MM undergraduate degrees conferred in the 2009-2010 academic year were in areas such as Computer Sciences, Engineering, Math and Statistics, and the Physical Sciences & Technologies.



These are the types of degrees Big Data analysts will have; and unfortunately for organizations needing to hire Big Data analysts, this is down significantly from nearly 13.5% of all degrees awarded in the 1980-1981 academic year.  If you are on the demand side of this Big Data equation, this is not the sort of trend you want to see in the face of the surging Big Data Tidal Wave! (Affiliate Link)

While I’m spreading all sorts of sunshine on our Big Data parade, here’s something else to keep in mind.  Only a small fraction of those who have graduated with analytic or technical degrees in the past twenty or so years are actually in the Big Data analysis business, and very few of today’s technically-oriented undergrads are aspiring Big Data ninjas.  The bottom line is an interesting reality where we are dealing with the rapid growth in demand for competent Big Data analysts in the face of a woefully insufficient supply.  I suspect it will take a good number of years before natural market forces arrive at equilibrium – that is, when the supply of Big Data slayers will equal market demand.

The Path Forward

There is absolutely no doubt that Big Data is finally here, and that it is truly here to stay.  There is also no denying that there are a lot of Big Data challenges that need to be better understood and dealt with.  However, if we make the proper investments in Planning, Preparing and Organizing  for Big Data, we can begin to realize the value that is promises.  I, by no means intend to trivialize or undersell the time, effort, and resources that will be required along the way.  This will be a big effort – after all, we are talking about Big Data. However this dilemma is a bit like the question about when is the best time to plant a tree. The best answer of course is yesterday and the second best answer is today.  Regardless of your current Big Data state, better Planning, Preparation and Organization today will ensure a better Big Data tomorrow.

So what do you think?  Are we really in the midst of a Big Data dilemma?  Or, is all of this Big Data stuff much ado about nothing?

And hey – on the bright side of things, if you happen to be a budding Big Data ninja…  Your future’s so bright, you’d better get shades (cue up Timbuk3)– Woody Bendle


       (Affiliate Link)

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Swoot-AnalysisA Twitter friend tweeted something the other day about performing a SWOOT analysis. Thinking there may be a new type of strategic thinking exercise I need to check out, I clicked the link.

As I had already suspected, the SWOOT analysis was just a typo in the tweet. The article was really about doing a SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats.

Same old SWOT stuff after all, but the Twitter typo got me thinking.

7 Ideas to Turn a SWOT Analysis into a SWOOT Analysis

If there were a SWOOT analysis, what would that other O stand for? What new O word would add new depth, clarity, or insight into the standard SWOT analysis to enhance the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats you’ve uncovered from the classic strategic thinking exercise?

Here are seven O’s to consider tucking into the middle of your next SWOT analysis (along with related strategic thinking questions) to add a new dimension:

  1. Objectives – From the strengths and weaknesses already identified, what are the most important and/or challenging goals?
  2. Occurrences – What events took place during the period you’re evaluating to shape future opportunities and threats?
  3. Obsolescence – What things or ideas are no longer relevant now as you explore your future situation?
  4. Opinions – What are the most strongly held opinions relative to the analysis, and which of them are fact-based opinions?
  5. Ordinary – What things are so common that they’ve become part of the backdrop but could emerge as big positive or negative issues?
  6. Objections – Amid the analysis of the current and future situation, what are the most serious objections to conclusions from the analysis?
  7. Organization – Where is the organization ready or not ready to capitalize on the opportunities and threats it will face?

I’m not sure a SWOOT analysis could or even should replace a typical SWOT analysis, but when a strategic thinking exercise is used frequently and becomes so common, it’s always worthwhile to inject something different to trigger new thinking.

That’s true even when the new strategic thinking exercise is prompted by a typo in a tweet! – Mike Brown

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Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

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Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic thinking exercises, “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” will be a go-to resource for stronger strategic insights!

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Yesterday’s post explored sixteen signals to identify when strategizing becomes procrastination, stopping you from moving forward with implementation. At the heart of many of the sixteen signals is apprehension with decision making for various reasons.

In light of the challenges we all (okay, maybe most of us) face at times with making decisions on a timely basis, here is a recap list of Brainzooming articles on making successful decisions.

Decision Making Techniques

1. Don’t Overthink It? 5 Key Questions for Quick Decisions

Here are five ways to constrain thinking when it’s too easy to take more time to make decisions. Chopping off some available time, resources, and possibilities can get you to a decision much faster.

2. Making Decision Making Easier – She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

One factor that can slow decision making speed is too many available choices. Here is a low-tech, very direct way to narrow your decision options and move directly toward decision making.

3. Strategic Thinking Exercise – Simply Making Big Decisions

Your approach for making big decisions doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It can be as simple as listing your criteria and asking yes or no questions about the options you’re considering.

4. Black and White Decision Making? Today, Change to Grey (and Vice Versa)

There are benefits to consciously changing your typical decision making style, even if temporarily.

5. Project Management – 15 Techniques When Time Is Running Down

I enjoy events because they have a built-in deadline: at some point, the event will start, and all decisions are either made or you’ve lost the chance to tinker any longer. When looking at all deadlines as “events,” these techniques help focus and move forward when time is running down.

Decision Making with Teams

6. Level 5 Decisions – Decision Making without Your Influence

Maybe part of your decision making challenge is you are trying to make too many decisions yourself. This helpful strategic thinking approach helps move decisions away from you toward your team so everyone can be more effective.

7. Striving for Simple Revolutionary Ideas

This prioritization and decision making approach not only helps identify winning ideas, it takes best advantage of using both individuals and groups working through a group decision making process efficiently.


8. Built for Discomfort – An Alternative Prioritization Strategy for Innovation

If the easy decision is always the decision that gets made, this prioritization strategy will help force a group to more strongly consider uncomfortable ideas that can be more challenging but also more beneficial.

9. Prioritizing Things Others Are Depending Upon

When you’re in a team situation, delaying a decision or action can really screw things up for the next person in the process. This alternative prioritization approach places a premium on taking actions that set the next person up for success.

Dealing with Varied Decision Making Situations

10. Making a Decision – 7 Situations Begging for Quick Decisions

It can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and turn small decisions into protracted ones. This guide adds some perspective to seven common decision making situations that could be quick decisions once you strip away everything that’s surrounding them.

11. Market Research – 5 Ways to Not Screw Up Focus Group Decision Making

As a market researcher, I’m quick to support the idea of getting market input to help make better decisions. If you misuse market research as a way to tap market input, however, you can make the situation worse. Here’s how to not screw up focus groups if you’re using them.

12. Is Your Brand Headed for Trouble? 5 Strategic Warning Signs

While decision making isn’t the central focus of this article, poor decision making is at the  heart of these strategic warning signs that suggest a brand is heading for trouble, if it’s not already present and accounted for in Troubleville. – Mike Brown

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

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