#202: Owning vs. Helping in Analytics

Here at the Analytics Power Hour, we have a very clear delineation of who owns what when it comes to the show production. And ownership is the topic of this episode. It’s possible that the owner of the episode description feels like this is an awfully touchy-feely topic, but said owner also knows that teamwork means going along with the majority when it comes to show topics. I guess that’s joint ownership? Can that work? Sadly, that, specifically, was not discussed, but the show definitely earned its explicit rating with this episode!

Blogs and Books Mentioned in the Show

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

Episode Transcript

[music]

0:00:05.9 Announcer: Welcome to the Analytics Power Hour. Analytics topics covered conversationally and sometimes with explicit language. Here are your hosts. Moe, Michael, and Tim.

0:00:22.3 Michael Helbling: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Analytics Power Hour. This is episode 202. This is the part of the podcast that I own. I get an idea…

0:00:33.9 Tim Wilson: Michael? Well, I had some thoughts about your intro, but go ahead.

0:00:38.4 MH: Well, I appreciate that. [chuckle] So, thanks, Tim, I appreciate the help.

[laughter]

0:00:42.6 Moe Kiss: Oh my God, it’s already starting.

0:00:44.9 MH: I get an idea to frame our topic, and I write it up. And no one else really has all that much input, usually. I mean, Moe and Tim will help by giving feedback and correcting errors I make and those kinds of things, and when we have a guest I double-check that I have their bio correct and things like that. Well, how did that happen? How did I end up owning this? I’m just one part of the Analytics Power Hour, and that’s the topic. Taking ownership in analytics. The majority of our listeners are not CEOs, but many of you are leaders, and if not already, on your way to being that some day. And some days, it feels like you show up, you do what you’ve been asked to do and you go home. And, a lot of us, it means going back upstairs or into the next room, #remotework. But what does it mean to take ownership? So let’s dive in, by introducing my two co-hosts, Moe Kiss, who takes ownership of leading marketing data at Canva.

0:01:44.5 MK: Howdy.

0:01:45.9 MH: I had to take…

[laughter]

0:01:46.0 MH: I’m doing a whole thing. Hi Moe. Tim Wilson…

0:01:50.9 MK: Hi.

0:01:51.6 MH: Who totally owns being a senior director of analytics at Search Discovery.

0:01:55.9 TW: Yep, sure.

0:01:58.3 MH: Did you learn any foreign languages on your big summer Europe tour, Tim?

0:02:01.9 TW: I learned that my brain is done after we’ve switched to the third language.

0:02:08.0 MH: Oh, nice.

0:02:09.1 TW: And gave up for the second half of the trip.

0:02:13.1 MH: And I’m Michael Helbling, and I own, operate, Stacked Analytics, amongst other things. Okay, let’s dive in. Moe, you actually brought this topic forward. Do you wanna kick us off on this topic of kinda taking ownership? And it’s really broad, but we’re gonna talk about it in the context of analytics, mostly.

0:02:27.3 MK: Yeah, so I was chatting to one of my managers about the concept of ownership in the data space and what that really means. And it was really interesting because she’d read an article really recently called A Guide To Owning Instead of Helping by Dave Anderson. And she shared that with me and I kind of went away and read it and was like, Oh, this summarizes everything I think about this topic. Not every single point, but it’s a very good summary, which is really about… I think there’s multiple layers of this, obviously, in terms of what your role is as a manager to let people own things, but what your role is as an analyst to take ownership of things. But I think the easiest way to actually summarize it is to refer to my dad. So my dad has this catch-cry that he says all the time. We’ve decided it’s gonna be on his tombstone, and he says to my mother, “You only have to ask, Bonniest.” So she’ll be like, “Oh, can you empty the dish washer?” Or like, “Oh, can you take out the rubbish?” And he’ll be like, “You only have to ask, Bonniest.” And the difference between helping and owning is really not having to be asked. You just have total faith that that person is responsible for that thing, whatever it is. They’re gonna own the mental load, they’re gonna finish that task, and you don’t need to actually check in because that’s part of their job. And so, thanks dad, for setting a example of what to not do.

[laughter]

0:03:56.9 TW: So that’s saying that… I guess, ’cause that post did kind of make the point that you are… That ownership does mean you’re not just reacting. You’re kind of… You’ve got a little bit of a broader view, which to me the thing… ‘Cause it doesn’t talk about analytics really at all, but I do feel like that’s… Even last week I was having a discussion with somebody who’s taken a new role, and he’s got an analyst, and that analyst kind of typified not having ownership. He was saying, well, the analyst will get asked to analyze something, analyze churn rate, and the analyst would go back and just kind of crunch numbers, look for correlations and return a bulleted list of, “I looked at this and didn’t find anything. I looked at this and I did find some, and there’s a correlation here. And I looked at this,” and then kind of stops. And I feel like that typifies what I’ve seen with analysts sometimes of, “You asked me for this thing, I delivered a result,” but no ownership of understanding the business ask, understanding the actionability. And to me a big miss often is saying the analyst can own, “Was something done with it?” Because if nothing was done with it, it may be because the analyst didn’t deliver that something could be done with it, or it could be people just got busy and the analyst could own kind of the nudging. So…

0:05:41.1 MK: I actually had this come up. I had this come up yesterday, where a few of us were chatting about a piece of analysis that we thought might be quite useful, and someone wrote a brief for one of the analysts to take a look at it. And it was like a bunch of like, “You need to look at this and this and this and this.” And I was like, “Hang on a minute. This is exactly what we tell our analysts not to do, or to push back against, right? You haven’t actually shared with them what the problem is. How were they meant to really understand this and answer this well, and own like identifying the problem, what are the opportunities, make the recommendations; like how are they meant to do that if they don’t have the full context?” And it’s like, “Oh, well, I want them to look at these particular things.” And it’s like, “Yes, because you have the context, so you think that those particular things are the right way to solve it.” So that’s delegating a task. That’s not giving someone ownership of a problem, in my view.

0:06:35.8 MH: I think that’s really good that you point that out, Moe, because when I think about ownership and taking ownership, a lot of times it can feel one-sided, where people are like, “Oh, you’re not taking ownership. You’re just sitting there like a bump on a log.” You only have to ask, Bonniest. But then if somebody does try to take ownership, then somebody jumps in and micromanages the shit out of them, they’re literally not letting them take ownership. So it’s a two-part problem. And people need… Bear with me, people need training and education on both sides of that.

0:07:09.6 TW: Yes, but…

0:07:11.3 MH: What? Okay, say what you’re…

0:07:12.2 MK: Yes, but?

0:07:13.5 MH: Yeah.

0:07:14.8 TW: Well, I mean, I think I have a pretty visceral reaction to blaming the stakeholder. Like, The stakeholder didn’t bring me in early enough, the stakeholder told me what they wanted and not the problem, and I just wanna go back the… When an analyst says, “Well, they gave me this list and so I did it,” I think… I would…

0:07:34.2 MH: That’s fair.

0:07:34.3 TW: I would skew heavily towards training the analyst of saying, “If that’s what they give you… ” And we go through this actually a lot at Search Discovery, where if that’s what you get, don’t think that you’re not allowed to ask probing questions. And yes, one in 10 times, you may have a stakeholder or a client say, “Why are you asking me about the business? I told you what data I wanted.” The other nine in 10 times, it’s gonna be, “Oh, that’s cool.” in your illustrating, you take ownership. ‘Cause I think analysts will find themselves put into that corner, because, yeah, they train the organization that they don’t take ownership.

0:08:13.7 MK: I think it’s both. I think it’s both though, Tim. I think it’s both.

0:08:16.5 MH: Yeah. I’m not trying to alleviate one side or the other, yeah.

0:08:20.9 MK: You can’t take ownership of something unless whoever the other party is is also willing to let you own it. Because like Michael said, the alternative is that you end up getting micromanaged, and then you… I agree 100% that that analyst needs to go back and they need to push back and that sort of stuff, and they need to ask questions, and that they need to get to the level of depth that they need to do their job well. But there comes a certain point, right, where if someone isn’t willing to hand over their Lego, you can’t force them to. You might be able to get access to the whole box of Lego, but that’s still not ownership.

0:09:00.2 TW: Well, but I will… So you just said “take ownership”, and I think that’s a… I would go with you can actually demonstrate ownership, or you can show ownership. Like, making it this binary thing… Like, I…

0:09:08.6 MK: Yeah, true. True.

0:09:11.3 MH: There’s degrees, there’s degrees.

0:09:13.1 TW: It gets… I mean, this gets back to… And I had made a joke in our prep, like some of this to me is like, this is the touchy-feely stuff, where I’m like, “Do your fucking job and do it well.” I’ve never gone and said, with a stakeholder, like, “Okay, let me be clear. This is what I own.” There is… I will say 95% of the time no one is saying you can’t take ownership. If somebody takes ownership, 95% of the time people are like, “Great. That person took ownership.” They don’t have to stand up and say, “I’m taking ownership.” That’s bullshit.

0:09:54.6 MK: I would say that’s true with stakeholders, but I think within your team, having a clear model of who owns what, even if it’s not necessarily spoken, of like, “This person is responsible for this area of subject expertise,” or like I know if someone asks a question about attribution in our data warehouse, this person is probably gonna own answering that question because that is the thing they know the most about. Like, there are these unspoken areas. And the truth of the matter is you get to a certain level of seniority where you are expected to… And you’re right, take ownership isn’t the right word, but to demonstrate ownership. And you’re not gonna get to those senior levels if you don’t do it. And within a team, I actually think that that’s a really delicate balance of making sure that everyone does have autonomy and ownership of a particular space.

0:10:45.7 MH: Yeah, and I think, Tim, you touched on something that I care about a lot too, which is there is sort of sometimes, in our context, I don’t wanna call anybody out or anything like that, but like a sense of like, people sit around until someone declares them the owner of it or whatever, as if that suddenly conveys something. As opposed to just starting to exhibit those characteristics and doing that taking ownership or acquiring ownership behavior. And which is just… You know, like you said, Tim, sorta do your fucking job, right? That’s… You know.

0:11:23.5 TW: Yeah, I mean… I do… I like the idea. I like people to think about ownership, because part of it’s saying, “Oh crap, why do I own this? Why the fuck do I own attribution?” I’m like… And I could be pissed and say, “I don’t wanna own that.” Like, that’s actually useful to say, “Everyone is assuming that I’m owning this thing, and I have no interest in it whatsoever.”

0:11:44.9 MH: Yeah. I think what opened my eyes on the other side of it was when I, as a leader, needed to hand off ownership of things to others, is when I started realizing how important that process was, and how enabling people to take ownership or take over ownership of something was very much… I could make that much more successful by what I did as a leader. So that’s where I sort of start placing some equality on both sides. So I would say if you’re not a leader and you’re an analyst, then start looking for ways to get more… I don’t know, let’s talk about that a little bit, like what should they be doing? Sorry, Moe, you were gonna say…

0:12:23.4 MK: One thing though that I really wanted to draw attention to, which I think is such a good point in this article, is it actually does talk about the mental load. And I know the mental load is something that’s often discussed in a family context with two parents or a partnership, and how they balance everything around the house. For example, you having to write the grocery shop list and decide what all the meals are going to be, and then your partner going to the store and picking up the groceries, is not them owning it; that is them helping you. Whereas them being responsible for the thinking of, “How are all these ingredients going to get used for the meal? Which evening are we having which meal?” That is owning it. And I really like that distinction about, if you are still having to do either all the thinking about identifying the problems or the strategy to solve the problem, having to really map out what the vision and the strategy and the opportunities are moving forwards, then you haven’t handed over ownership as a leader. And I think that is so important to discuss and to really think about, because I would say that there are people in my team that definitely own stuff, and there are some that I still have to carry that mental load.

0:13:37.4 TW: Which, well… I mean, on that front, and Michael, you said handing ownership off, I’m assuming, ’cause when I think about when I’ve watched ownership shift from me to somebody else, or between two people, it’s a thousand times smoother when the person that is shifting to has already probably gone through…

0:14:00.3 MH: Oh, yeah.

0:14:00.8 TW: They’ve been helping and they’ve shown that they kind of… And then it’s kind of like, “Oh, you know what, let’s just have a discussion. Why don’t you own that now?” And that’s very natural. I mean I’ve watched it… It feels like it fails if you’re like that person is not taking ownership or showing ownership and you’re gonna give them… They may say, I want ownership. I’m like, Well, you haven’t demonstrated squat, I can…

0:14:21.2 MH: Generally, the people who are clamoring for ownership are the ones who’ve taken none of it on.

0:14:26.5 TW: Yeah.

0:14:26.8 MK: No, they’re actually normally, they’re normally the ones that wanna get promoted and don’t understand why they’re not getting promoted. And it’s like, That is what a senior person in the team does. A senior person in the team, they don’t have to even be asked or have something handed over.

0:14:41.8 TW: Right. They see it.

0:14:42.4 MK: They will seek out problems and opportunities and go find them and be like, This is my thing, this is how I’m gonna have impact.

0:14:48.9 MH: In the article, one of the little examples they gave were about, if the VP knows about a problem before you do, your alert system is not tuned enough. And I was like, that as an analyst is actually spot on. If the leadership of your company knows about something about how the data works in your org and you’re not attuned to that if you’re aligned with that organization, that means you’re not paying close enough attention, you don’t have a mastery of the details. Because you should already know. And that’s the kind of sort of proactivity, and that’s the thing is like, this ownership thing to me also kind of revolves around this reactive versus proactive mentality. And it’s difficult because there’s a lot that goes into this, and I don’t want people listening to feel bad, like if they’re not in a position where they can provide a lot of proactivity or they don’t feel enabled to do that. There’s all kinds of reasons why it’s not gonna be perfect. So it’s not… I don’t want anyone listening to sort of be like, Oh, somebody thinks I’m not doing a good job or whatever ’cause I don’t have these things. But it’s good to think about a paradigm where you’re looking at, How much am I doing that’s proactive versus just adapting or reacting to the things around me that I’m being asked to do or that I know have to be done because they’re part of the routine?

0:16:09.0 MH: So like, Oh, the reports have to go out on Monday morning, and it’s like, okay, that’s fine, do the report, but the proactive thing would be like, take a look through those reports and see if anything stands out that might be a good thing to dig into later in the week and find… Why is that that way? Will someone come up with that question in the business meeting? I don’t know. Let’s be ready for it. That’s proactive. That’s taking ownership.

0:16:34.3 MK: This is actually a topic that has been bubbling up a lot lately, and I learnt a lot from a former executive that I worked with. I remember I would go to a meeting and we would like… I guess I always thought that part of my manager’s role was to help me when I got blocked on a problem, right, and I would bubble stuff up. Like that in my head was like, That’s part of their job, it’s to help me. And I would go to these meetings and really escalate the stuff that I couldn’t deal with, or for some reason couldn’t solve on my own. And their first response would always be like, “Well, what’s your plan? How are you gonna solve this?” And I would get quite frustrated and be like, “Well, I’m coming to you because I’m blocked on this. I’ve already solved the other 10 problems that are easy to solve. The issue is I can’t solve this one so this is why I need your help.” And the funny thing is, over time, I actually learnt… Like I would show up to the meeting with a plan to solve the problem, and then use that session to bounce off and be like, “Do you think this is the best approach? Where will I get stuck? Are there things that you can help me do?”

0:17:38.8 MK: And I think that right there is the difference. Because this article talks about that, right? Like, if you have a problem and you escalate it to your manager and they escalate it to theirs and they escalate it to theirs, along that whole chain all of those people don’t really own it. Because if you’re having to escalate the problem because you can’t solve it, then you probably don’t own that space, right? And I do think that perhaps that perspective is a little bit too strong, because I do think there are in big organizations things that, just for various reasons, you might own the space but politics or structure or whatever, there are things that you can’t always control. But I think the difference is at least having the thought and the plan of how you’re gonna solve the problem, and then if you really need it getting the input, or using your manager, your senior leadership team, to bounce off. Anyway, that was a rant.

[chuckle]

0:18:31.0 TW: Well, but even the moving it up in large organizations, and I’m thinking like when we talk to [0:18:38.5] ____, the organizations where you have, there are the processes and systems that are generating data. And a lot of times the analyst or the data science is working with the data, and in between is data engineering and there’s data governance, and it does seem like it’s a space that they’re trying to figure out what you own when you’re like, “Well, I’m just the analyst; if the data is not being collected or if the data is unreliable, or if the data is not documented, what can I do about it? That’s a whole other group. I need to go up to my manager who has to talk to that manager who then needs to come down.” That’s one, and culturally maybe that’s required in some organizations. Or there is, “I’m gonna own this. I wanna make this efficient, I wanna make it work. I am going to reach out to the person, or I don’t know who the person is, I’m gonna track down who the person is.” That happens in consulting all the time. Just start asking. “Well, who does own that? I just wanna ask them some questions. I wanna own, establishing a relationship, so I can understand what’s going on, so that then I can actually come up with a solution within the constraints, I have my assigned role, do the analysis, get the report generated.”

0:19:54.7 TW: “But I’m not gonna just say, if there’s a blocker. Well, throw my hands up. I’m gonna try to get to the bottom of it.”

0:20:02.9 MH: Yeah.

0:20:03.3 TW: But I still feel like it gets back to, Just do your fucking job and…

0:20:07.7 MH: Well, but there’s layers, ’cause you get stopped for any number of reasons. And like, Moe, you brought the example up of going to your manager or boss and saying, “Hey, I’m stuck here.” And it depends, sometimes the boss can just give you the answer, sometimes they can help you frame up the problem, or do sort of that thing where it’s like, “Well, what’s your plan to solve it?” And it’s sort of like, okay, so trying to take you a step further so that you get further next time, sort of thing, building your skills and those kinds of things. But one thing I wanna dive into with the two of you is, Why?

0:20:44.2 MK: Why what?

0:20:44.3 MH: Why should people build this capability? Why should they care about taking ownership? ‘Cause I think that’s actually kind of important.

0:20:52.2 MK: Oh, that’s such a loaded question. Oh geez. I have a thousand places my head is going, in terms of like why. And I feel like I could rattle a list of 20 reasons, and for any given person, you only need three of them to make it worthwhile. Like, one, to be perfectly frank, is, Tim’s response of like, it is your fucking job. It is your job to take ownership of problems and solve them.

0:21:22.2 MH: Yeah.

0:21:22.8 MK: And then there also is, like I mentioned, as you become more senior in the team, that’s an expectation, if you wanna get promoted, if you need that kind of personal incentive. But there’s also the fact of like, that’s how teams work. Like, you can’t have one manager who owns every single problem and owns every… You have to distribute ownership amongst the team. I also think for me personally, I enjoy owning stuff. Most people, not everyone, but most people like having autonomy, not being micromanaged, being able to make decisions and influence the outcome of something, and if you don’t, that’s cool, but then, well, it’ll help you get promoted.

0:22:01.6 TW: To me, that’s for professional… Personal and professional fulfillment. Owning means that you’re going to… You have to think, you’re gonna have to grow, you’re gonna have to solve problems. And if those aren’t things that gets you out of bed in the morning, you’re probably not in the right… If you just wanna not do any of that, then you’re not gonna go that far, you’re gonna be kind of limited in your career. I don’t know.

0:22:28.2 MH: I love it.

0:22:29.3 TW: What’s the right answer, Michael? Since…

0:22:31.9 MH: No, I wanna sort of say they’ve done studies of what makes people feel fulfilled and happy with work, and it has to do with autonomy, mastery, and purpose. And when you think about what we’ve been talking about with ownership, it’s sort of like taking on things and building in the autonomy piece of it for yourself. Right? Of seeing something and doing it because you see it there to be done, it fulfills both a purpose and autonomy thing, and it builds mastery. And so all the things that correlate into you actually accelerating in the thing that you love to do and the happiness you have doing it, are very tied to those two things. So that’s one of the ways I think about it. And then in strictly economic terms, Moe, and you touched on this, your value directly increases with your ability to demonstrate this.

0:23:31.4 MK: A hundred percent.

0:23:31.5 MH: And when I worked at Search Discovery, we were a very small company, and I was interviewing and bringing people into the company and hiring them, some people during the interview process…

0:23:40.1 TW: Boy, you made some shitty decisions on that.

0:23:43.2 MH: Well, I’ve paid for my mistakes. Come on. You… People are gonna be like, “What is he talking about?” I think Tim’s talking about Tim.

0:23:54.9 TW: Yep.

0:23:55.3 MH: No. No. No, but people would ask and be like, “Oh, I wanna own part of the company, I want equity in the company.” And it’s sort of like, “What? No, you can’t have that.” Even if you’re a small… And it’s like, “Do you understand what that means? Do you understand what ownership means at that level?” And it’s sort of like, what would it mean to own a company? And that’s where I try to go back and be like, what is ownership? Like would just define it all the way back to what does owning something means? It means you take on all the risk, but you get all the reward.

0:24:29.5 MK: Totally.

0:24:31.4 MH: And so it’s sort of like, the most important thing leaders can do is make sure that the risk/reward ratios are paying off correctly when their team is taking ownership. And so the thing that kills taking on ownership in organizations like a mofo, is when leaders don’t make the reward come back through by making sure that their people are getting recognized for what they’ve done…

0:24:52.6 MK: Totally.

0:24:54.7 MH: And take ownership. So if somebody does step up and do it, if the leader then takes credit for that behavior, they’re like, “Yeah, the whole team gets credit and I am the head of the team so I just go in and take credit for all of us.” And…

0:25:05.4 MK: That actually makes me… It makes me cringe, ’cause that’s disgusting.

0:25:09.9 MH: You’re right. You gotta say it, because they took the risk, they deserve the reward, and that’s the thing like, as a person, like you wanna look for and evaluate in the organizations that you’re in. Because we’re kind of challenging analysts, step up and do this thing where you’re being more proactive and owning things and taking that next step and driving your value up, but you need to do it in the context of evaluating, Am I doing it an organization that is paying off the risk/reward piece of this the correct way? And that’s why it’s important to think about, Well, what is ownership actually? And it’s not necessarily like, Oh, I get tons more money. Well, eventually, yeah, over the course of 10 to 15 years, you can start making some serious Tim Wilson money like…

[laughter]

0:26:03.5 MH: What we’ll find out is that Moe is probably the highest paid of all of us, right?

0:26:08.6 MK: I’d highly doubt that.

0:26:10.5 MH: Well, in Australian dollars. Yeah, I’m sorry, Moe.

0:26:14.5 TW: The thing is about it, if you’re taking… Even if the organization doesn’t support it, you’re still going to be growing and building your skills and able to move. And it’s gonna become very, very obvious when you… When you need to move, I think, when you’re like… I feel like I’ve seen that happen.

0:26:29.9 MK: I was just gonna say, though, that one of the things that this specific article talks about, which I think is really important, which we haven’t touched on yet, is actually the role of the manager or coach or supervisor or whatever the hell we wanna call it, in this situation, right? In that, if you want people in your team to take ownership, you can’t then tell them how to do it.

0:26:53.3 MH: Yes.

0:26:54.3 MK: And to be honest, the person I’ve learned the most from, my coach Timo, is so incredible at this. I’ll go to him and I’ll say like, “Hey, I’ve got this situation. This is what I’m thinking about doing. Am I making the right decision?” And this is even a few years ago, he’d be like, “Moe, you were the right person, you were the best person, you had the most information about this particular topic to make a decision. Even if I disagree with you, and I will tell you if I disagree with you, I will still support whatever decision you make because you are the person who’s owning this space.” And I think that that’s something really important because I think we have a tendency, especially if you’re in a leadership role, when you disagree to be like, “Actually, I’m pulling rank. We’re gonna do it this way.” And the truth of the matter is, if your team really own something, you will disagree and commit when they suggest something that you don’t… You’ll push back and you’ll be like, “Here are the reasons I think there might be a different way to do it.” But ultimately if they go, “I’ve listened to you, I’m totally taking your feedback on board. I’ve thought it all through, but here are the reasons I still wanna go with plan A.” You have to be prepared to say, “Yes, I 100% support that”, if you really want your team to have true ownership.

0:28:06.7 TW: Well, and if it doesn’t work out, you don’t throw them under the bus and saying, “See, I told you so and I’ve lost faith in you.” You’ve gotta continue to… Which I think that is… There still is the opportunity for the manager to take the bullets for… They gave ownership, that’s part of it too, to not be sitting in the meeting with the other higher-ups and saying, “Yeah, yeah, I tried to give that person ownership, they made a bad decision. I shouldn’t have let him, I should have pulled rank.” It’s gotta be…

0:28:37.9 MK: Well, see… But I would say that that is your job as a leader, that if the wrong decision… Like if the worst outcome happens, or a bad outcome happens… You don’t take credit when the good happens, but if the bad happens, you absolutely take credit, that’s on you.

0:28:54.3 MH: Yeah, “We made that decision”, and, “We are gonna address it this way”, as if it was yours.

0:29:02.2 MK: Totally. Yes, totally.

0:29:03.3 MH: Yeah, that’s right. That’s what it means by the risk piece, right?

0:29:05.4 MK: Yes.

0:29:06.2 MH: Handing off the ownership is let that risk… And it’s actually why it’s hard to do. It’s hard… Well, it’s hard for me to do.

0:29:12.2 TW: It’s not that hard.

0:29:14.6 MH: Oh, it’s not Tim? [chuckle]

0:29:16.8 TW: Yeah, says the guy who… Yeah. Maybe… Podcast organization accepted…

0:29:22.6 MH: Tim “I-don’t-ever-wanna-manage-people-ever-again” Wilson?

0:29:25.9 TW: I will… Well, that’s a whole other… One thing we haven’t talked about, and Josh and I had a little back and forth about this before the recording, which I think was a good… The case where you’ve got the different groups, or roles, or people, trying to take ownership of the same thing or getting territorial. Like do you guys… Does that fall into the territorial part? That if somebody who’s legitimately trying to take ownership and somebody else starts to feel threatened, in my experience, that’s often because they see somebody who’s got initiative, and is being proactive, and is maybe going to outshine them because they’re just showing initiative with their ownership? And it becomes a, “No, no, no. You don’t own that. You can’t ask that question. You can’t try to answer that question because that’s… I own that.” And even if the… I don’t know. Do you guys run into that?

0:30:21.0 MH: Yeah.

0:30:22.9 MK: Yeah…

0:30:23.0 TW: Yeah. You have any thoughts on it?

0:30:26.2 MK: Tim, we’re processing. I do, but I also… Look, I’m not a person that handles ‘pissing contests’, or whatever you wanna say, ‘ownership squabbles’, particularly well. I think it’s really stupid and I don’t have a lot of patience for it. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I guess what… I’m just thinking like how I would approach this ’cause I have a similar situation at the moment where I’m actually owning something that probably a data person doesn’t need to own. But it’s been a really good conduit to bring different part… Like, data is often perceived as neutral or, “Independent”, I’m doing inverted commas. So therefore I’m trying to use my data role to bring people to the table. But if someone says to me like, “Moe, this is not your thing, I own this.” The truth of the matter is, I’m probably gonna be like, “Cool, no worries. You’ve got this.” There are a gazillion other things that I can spend my time and energy on, I’m not gonna convince you to let me own it. But I think that’s… I just don’t know if that would fly in every situation because there are some genuine cases where it’s like you are the best person to own it.

0:31:42.8 MH: I think there’s cases where people take on, “Ownership”, because it’s their turf, or… It’s sort of like in the feudal system in the Middle Ages, people just inherited titles and lands. They didn’t deserve them, they just by dint of being the son or daughter of so-and-so, they got that stuff. And it was a bad system and rightly thrown in the trash heap of history. And in a corporate setting, people still sometimes take on that mentality sometimes, where they’re like, “Well, I own this because it’s blah, blah, blah, and I’m not doing anything with it, I’m not fixing any of the problems that are making everyone’s life miserable. But don’t touch it ’cause it’s mine. I inherited it and… ” So that kind of stuff is sort of like where you have to do some fancy footwork. So if it’s just a peer, then you have to make a choice, like you said, Moe, like, “Okay, fine, yeah, hands off. I’m not gonna try to trod on your steps”, there’s some fights that are more important. If it’s somebody… Like I was having a conversation with someone and they were like, “This leader above me in the company is just headed the wrong way.” And I said, “Well, you have to kinda figure out where they’re getting their ideas from, and then go sneakily, plant ideas where they can go pick them up and incept them, basically.”

0:33:07.6 MK: Yeah.

0:33:08.4 MH: And so I was like, “You make it a spy mission. It’s a classic espionage.”

0:33:16.4 TW: As I’m thinking of some specific examples with one particularly very large client, and where there are groups that they kind of draw what sound like hard lines, even though they don’t actually make sense in reality. They’re kind of like, “Oh, we’ve been able to put ownership in these boxes, and we have used,” where we’re like, “Well, we’re not gonna go and try to take that from you, but what we’re doing or what the group that we’re supporting saying, “Well, in the scope of what we are owning, we still see some other opportunity. And how do we gently outline that we politely say we stayed in our swim lane, we think there’s some exciting opportunities, or even getting that other group to tell them like, “Hey, we know this is your area, but because we were doing this other thing, trying to stay out of your way, we kind of thought this other cool thing might be useful, and we’d be happy to support you or help out or do whatever you can and try to… ”

0:34:21.4 TW: It is. It’s a little bit of fancy footwork. You don’t want, I think, not getting into a pissing contest, not standing up and saying, “Well, this thing is not nearly as valuable as it could be, ’cause that jackass over there wouldn’t cooperate,’ they say they own it, but I think recognizing when, if somebody declares that they own something saying, “Okay, let’s operate on the premise that they own it. With the world I’m operating in, what is it that I would… If they were truly owning it, what could they do to help the organization that has an adjacency or dependency on what I’m doing?” And that’s… In analytics, in this context, it was kind of like, Oh, the digital marketing and the tactics, and this stuff falls into the area we are. These deeper business impact things fall in this other group. And we’re like, “Great. Well, of course. We’re just like the tactical staff, but obviously we care about the ultimate business impact too, so can you help us out?” And it’s a process. It takes a while, it takes making sure that they’re not feeling threatened, but it is one of those that if we can get them to be kind of heroes, like sort of nudge them to take some greater ownership, then… But boy, it’s delicate and maybe not real suited to my natural means of interacting with people.

0:35:52.1 MK: It’s weird. I actually think you’re weirdly good at it. I think you’re really good at… I think you’re better at it than you think.

0:35:57.8 MH: What’s interesting is it… One of the…

0:36:00.7 TW: I can introduce you to some people [laughter] who might disagree. [laughter]

0:36:04.2 MH: One of the great analyst traits that I think is highly correlated with ownership is curiosity. So I think a great analyst is a curious and sort of wants to know, and that lends itself to taking ownership really well. In fact, I would say, as an analyst early in my career, I more had to be pulled off of problems because I tried to take too much ownership and ended up outside of my swim lane a lot of times, which is actually why I didn’t do well in college either, ’cause I would just go off and study random things. But those are… So that’s the thing, you have to learn to balance, but I think analysts actually have a nice trait that actually helps with ownership naturally.

0:36:50.2 MK: Speaking of which, one area that we haven’t delved into that I’m dying to cover is junior analysts, because we have been talking a lot about more senior team members and leadership roles and that sort of thing, but the truth of the matter is like ownership is something we discuss quite a lot when it comes to the professional development of our junior analyst as well. And I suppose I’m curious to just say my thoughts out loud and bounce off you guys, but also if any of the listeners wanna hit me up, I’d be curious to hear what they think as well, where my expectations are kind of like, with a junior person, I give them sort of… At the three to six months, I wouldn’t be expecting them to own a task, right? I wouldn’t say a whole problem space, but I would expect them to be able to like pick up a piece of analysis, to be able to come up with a plan of attack, to be able to figure out how to write up some recommendations, and for most people, I would expect them to basically be able to do at least 90% of that completely independently with that other 10% of like, “Oh, I might wanna run this technical detail past someone, or I might wanna get someone to check my query, or I might need a bit of help just bouncing that my approach makes sense.”

0:38:09.0 MK: I suppose what I’m trying to glean is whether that’s reasonable, and the way I think about it is, if you are always looking to people to tell you what to do, you are essentially like, you’re actually taking time from the team, right? Whereas you should be able to take a task that reduces the workload of the team. At some point, right, that has to shift. And in my mind, I don’t think there’s a set time for every single new person, but I do think there is a time somewhere around that six-month mark where you expect that transition to happen. I’ve said a lot of stuff.

0:38:46.2 TW: I think there’s… And again, I look at it now having been at Search Discovery for almost five years and watched a lot of junior analysts come in and watching some of them who demonstrate ownership and kind of rock it up and watch other ones, not like… I think, a month in, like if you’re doing anything, there’s opportunities to take… Not necessarily take ownership of saying, “I’m going to own this complex data area,” or, “I’m going to own this,” but there’s an opportunity to say, at any point in your career, there’s opportunity for things to work better. If you’ve been in a role for two months and you are constantly struggling to remember what the six different definitions for revenue are, then there’s a little opportunity to say, “You know what, I should probably find out if this is already captured somewhere.” If it’s not, I will go capture it. I will write it down. I will figure… If there’s an opportunity to…

0:39:47.6 MK: Yes, I love that too.

0:39:47.6 TW: There’s a million opportunities to actually demonstrate ownership. And once you do that…

0:39:52.8 MK: I love that.

0:39:53.0 TW: People are like, Oh great.

0:39:54.7 MH: I call that my theory of equal pressure. Like when someone junior comes in, there’s pressure from the company to train that person and develop their talents and skills, and so there’s this pressure on the person to sort of come up. And the best people and the most successful people I’ve noticed are applying an equal pressure back to the organization and doing the things you just described, Tim, and they’re putting themselves into a position where they’re kind of forcing the organization to be like, Is that it? What else can I learn? Where else can I go? And they’re pushing upward, because they’re keeping good pressure on the org. And if the org is offering opportunities to learn things or take on tasks, they’re right there putting pressure on, Okay, I did that and I’m looking for something else and let me show you what else I’m thinking of.

0:40:38.0 MH: And it’s hard because there’s only so many hours in a day, and people work very hard, and so it’s challenging. It’s very challenging to figure out how to balance that. I would say, as a junior analyst, you shouldn’t feel any kind of bad way about yourself if the thing you’re learning in the first 90 days is just how to start figuring out how that timing works in a week. Because a lot of times, that’s part of it is just sort of like, I don’t feel like I have enough time to learn new things and do the things I’ve been asked. And that can be part of it. So I don’t want people to put themselves under pressure, but also understand a good manager will see you doing those things and will be like, What else could I provide to help them grow and develop? And there’s a thing that they teach in MBAs and leadership, it’s called the Pareto Principle, right? Which basically says that 20% of my team, let’s say, will produce 80% of the productivity.

0:41:38.9 MH: And it’s sort of… It’s tricky because there’s little nuance to that, but basically in MBA programs and leadership, they’ll basically tell you like, If you manage a team, 20% of that team is going to do 80% of the good productive work that’s going to happen on that team, and as you scale it scales with that. And so, as a leader, especially as you start getting a bigger and bigger team, you have to start making choices about where you prioritize and spend time and who you invest in, in their growth and those kinds of things, and you basically have to apply a Pareto Principle, of like, Okay, if I had to restart this whole thing tomorrow, which four people would be the most important people that basically do this whole thing over with? And there you go, that’s your Pareto Principle.

0:42:19.9 MK: Geez, Helbs. That’s so cutthroat.

0:42:23.2 MH: No, it’s not…

0:42:25.2 TW: But the flip side is that if you’re, as a manager, and you don’t… If you don’t know these things, if you don’t know these things and you’re struggling as a manager, then you might actually be demonstrating the Peter principle, which is another one that… Sorry.

0:42:37.2 MH: No. Yeah, Pareto Principle and Peter Principle are tightly correlated sometimes too. And it’s not meant to be cutthroat, Moe, because people move in and out of that. It’s not like locked in, like, Oh, this person is this…

0:42:48.3 MK: Yeah, totally.

0:42:49.0 MH: And this person is that. That’s not it. But it’s important that a junior analyst or anyone entering a team knows that your leader’s time, your manager’s time, is also not endless. In fact, probably more in demand and more stressed than yours. And so, make sure that you’re part of that 20% that’s doing the 80%. And that’s what taking ownership will do for you. It will automatically put you in that group. And it’s just weird that’s how it breaks down. I don’t know why it breaks down that way. I don’t like to put rules on stuff like that. I hate Bell Curves, I hate all those things because I love exceptionalness, and I love people who exceed their expectations and defy the norms and the stats. That’s my whole life. That’s me, all of my career is defying what should have happened. So I want that for everyone else too, but it is interesting because, generally speaking, those things hold true. And when you’re a junior analyst, you need to know that you need, to separate yourself and to build those things, you want to be in that value additive group. But you don’t have to look at an org and be like, Am I in the top 20%? Don’t look at it that way. Just let yourself shine. You’ll automatically fit in. Because it’s not like perfect.

0:44:00.5 MK: And do you know… Do you know… This actually I always feel like I hear Cassie just in my head saying this, which is like, Just focus on adding value. I always hear her just like, Just focus on adding value. Just focus on adding value. And the truth of the matter is, if you focus on adding value, you will be in that 20-ish percent.

0:44:22.3 MH: And here’s the thing I’ll say about that. I had a phone call this morning with someone who I did not report to at a previous job, who wants to bring me into a project because one point they walked past my desk and saw me doing something they thought was adding value and asked about it, and we formed a relationship that exists to this day. So people recognize these things who are not even your boss.

0:44:45.4 MK: Yeah, totally.

0:44:46.5 MH: And so if you’re doing that, you’re trying to take ownership of that, the famous, what is it, the Martin Luther King quote, the arc of the universe bends towards justice. And so think about the longer time frame, these things will come back to you. They’re not going to hurt you.

0:45:01.5 TW: But not to… I don’t think this is… The flip side, and this is where sometimes I feel like we make this… Make it too complicated. Like pay attention to what you enjoy or are interested in.

0:45:20.4 MH: Yeah, yeah.

0:45:21.7 TW: It’s a lot easier to get ownership.

0:45:21.9 MK: Totally.

0:45:22.1 TW: If you focus on like, Wow, you know what, the waste bins just aren’t getting taken out on a regular basis and I’m going to take ownership of… I hate taking out emptying the trash, but, boy, I’m going to take ownership and show some initiative. Well…

0:45:36.3 MK: Totally.

0:45:39.0 TW: Yeah, in the near term somebody may say, Well, that’s nice that you did that. But, good Lord, you don’t want to wind up being the ownership of the janitorial service unless you really, really enjoy it. So it’s not… Just paying attention to what you’re interested in, hopefully somewhere that you want to grow and you want to do more, and it’s easier to find the time and you don’t feel like you’re punishing yourself to squeeze hours into the day because you’re reading and doing things, and then it kind of naturally evolves that way. So I guess that’s my caution. I cringe when there are people who are trying to get a little too formulaic about looking at their career growth. And, Moe, you brought it up earlier, the person saying, What do I need to do to get promoted? It’s like, Well, those tend to be the people who actually aren’t intuitively owning stuff that actually aligns with what is valuable for the…

0:46:33.1 MH: Yeah.

0:46:34.0 TW: Team. Which also means if you’re saying the stuff that needs to be owned, I have no interest in, then change teams or change companies.

0:46:40.9 MK: A hundred percent.

0:46:43.9 MH: Yeah, it’s interesting because I’ve seen people… Like a lot of times my advice is right there, Tim, which is like, Listen, there’s not a wrong way to do this, and you can change paths and it’s going to be okay. But I’ve also seen people come in with very detailed plans of what they’re going to do across the next five years of their life. And, by golly, most of them kind of do it. I’m like, Alright, well, you’re just a different person.

0:47:04.5 MK: Really?

0:47:07.3 MH: I don’t know… Some of them, yeah. Now there’s a lot of in-between there. Sometimes people have… I work with exceptional people, Moe, I think you know that already. And…

0:47:16.2 MK: I don’t think we count Tim.

0:47:17.6 TW: Yeah.

0:47:18.3 MH: No, of course you do… Both do. [chuckle]

0:47:22.7 TW: He’ll say he podcasts with one exceptional person. And well, he’ll just leave it at that.

0:47:26.9 MH: Well, episode 200, we did have Jim Cain, so… Yeah. No, anyway… No, but it’s interesting because I do think the advice doesn’t… As a person, your personality may actually… You can plan some of those things. I don’t understand it, I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit of a leaf on the wind sometimes. Like I have a direction I’m going, but how I get there is not as important as like the big purpose. But that’s just me and my personality, I think. But anyway…

0:47:56.9 MK: Oh, I go with the vibe. I’m just like…

0:47:58.8 MH: With the vibe?

0:48:00.8 MK: Yeah, I go with the vibe. People lately keep asking me five-year plans, and I’m like, Huh? I’m like, I really love what I’m doing, I don’t see myself changing what I’m doing in the short term, but this is the vibe of what I want to be doing with my life, and the type of places I want to work, and the type of people I want to work with, and I’m going to follow that vibe. So, you know…

0:48:19.1 TW: That’s awesome. I like it.

0:48:23.0 MH: Well, knowing that our listeners get 80% of the quality of the podcast in 20% of the time, shall we start on the last calls then?

[laughter]

0:48:34.8 TW: Are you asking if I can spend 80% of the episode just going over last calls? Just doing last calls.

0:48:36.9 MH: No. You’re getting it wrong, Tim. It’s 20% of the episode, 80% of the value.

0:48:42.6 TW: Yeah, I wasn’t pretending that I was going to add value with it.

0:48:45.5 MH: Oh, okay. Well, yes, this is the time of the show we like to go around the horn and share our last call, something we find interesting that you might also find fascinating too. Moe, do you want to go first?

0:48:56.5 MK: Sure. So in a couple of weeks, on October 5th to October 7th, Measure Summit is happening. For those who haven’t already signed up, I will be there along with a bunch of other awesome people. So, measuresummit.com, if you’re interested in coming along. And it’s totally virtual, so you can join from wherever.

0:49:17.5 MH: Nice. Outstanding. Alright, Tim, lay it on us. What’s your last call? This better be good. [laughter]

0:49:25.2 TW: I’ll do the quickie, just as a little bit of a… For anybody who was listening back in Episode 148, G Elliot Morris, his book is now out. So, Strength in Numbers: How polls work and why we need them. So if you’re in the US and a political junkie, then you may be caring about polls over the next couple of months. But, in general, he’s delightful, very clean and clear writer. So just his book is out. Revisionist History, Season 7, from Malcolm Gladwell is… The theme of the season is The Experiment Experience. So it’s literally a whole season about experimentation. It misses the mark, I think, on a couple, but it’s got thought experiments… It kind of comes at it in kind of a typical Gladwellian way, but it’s just kind of interesting, looking at experiments, thinking about experiments, and some pretty delightful, interesting stories. And then, finally, I’m going to make this a triple.

0:50:21.1 MH: Trifer?

0:50:22.6 TW: Google Analytics 4. Is it a trifer? A trifer? This is a little bit of a search, this is a Search Discovery log rolling a bit, but I actually think it’s kind of valuable. And Search Discovery has actually been a long-time silent sponsor of the podcast, but GA4, Google Analytics 4 is coming out. They have… We have, I guess, a migration assessment. It is absolutely like a lead generating thing. Yes, you will have to enter your contact info, but it asks… If you are still on the, Am I approaching this Google Analytics 4 thing, if you are having to deal with that, just the questions that are asked are very useful. It does actually spit out kind of a couple of page report based on your answers that are like, Look, these are considerations. So if you want to check that out. It’s at searchdiscovery.com/GA4-migration-assessment. And I think it’s kind of handy for anyone who’s grappling with that.

0:51:28.3 MH: Nice. I actually took it, one of the GA4 assessments.

0:51:30.5 TW: Yeah?

0:51:31.5 MH: Yeah, for Stacked Analytics. It was a little pricey for what we needed. But, yeah, I think it’s a good tool.

0:51:39.1 TW: The assessment… Yeah, the assessment thing that comes out is…

0:51:42.1 MH: It’s very nice.

0:51:42.3 TW: Just a… Yeah.

0:51:42.5 MH: It’s very nice. Yeah. And a great team…

0:51:44.5 TW: I thought you were gonna say you did it for analyticshour.io.

0:51:47.1 MH: Yeah. That’s a good idea, I’ll do that one too. Because I like getting emails, so the point of contact person is someone I know pretty well, as well. So he was like, What are you doing? I was like, Hey. Anyway. Alright.

0:51:58.8 TW: What’s your last call?

0:52:01.0 MH: Well, I run across lots of tools and I work with a lot of companies that are in earlier stages and smaller, and constantly running into this issue of, Am I at a point where I can build a full data warehouse, on BigQuery or Snowflake or something like that, or do I keep using something like a Supermetrics or… What other options are there? Well, there’s a tool I ran across recently called Equals.app, which is basically an Excel wizziwig direct connection to data that then lets you use Excel formulas and things like that, and pivot tables to navigate and build analysis and reporting. And so for small companies that have a need to go quickly but don’t have a lot of technical skill to really understand how to do all those things, it is a very interesting little start-up. Anyways, so I’ve got one of my clients who’s using it today, and it was really easy for them to get up and running with it. I think when you start getting a bigger organization, these kinds of tools need a little more governance, but it comes with all these connectors. It also comes with versioning, but it mostly comes with the ability to just write Excel types of formulas and analyze your data just pulled right in from whatever data connectors you want to connect it to. Which a lot of times solves a problem for people who’ve… Like a lot of business people in marketing and finance know Excel but they don’t really know other query languages like SQL and stuff like that.

0:53:25.4 TW: Interesting. How does is tie into like Power Pivot, would be a… Or Power Query?

0:53:32.1 MH: I don’t know.

0:53:32.2 TW: Fascinating.

0:53:32.9 MH: Yeah. It’s an interesting app. I think the founding team behind it was part of the founding team behind Intercom, which is sort of a CRM type of company. Anyway, okay, as you’ve been listening, you’ve probably been wondering, Hey, how can I take ownership of reaching out and giving my two cents on this podcast episode? Well, I’m certainly glad you asked. We want to enable that kind of ownership as best we can. And that’s through the Measure Slack group or Twitter or on LinkedIn. And we’d love to hear from you. So yeah, reach out to us, we’d love to hear. And if you want to, go rate the show. If you want to, you can also email us at contact@analyticshour.io, and we’d be delighted to hear from you. Obviously, no show is complete without mentioning Josh Crowhurst, our amazing producer, who frankly takes so much ownership of making sure this show goes the right way. So, thank you, Josh, for all that you do, that you make this show work the way it does.

[music]

0:54:38.0 MH: Alright. I know that as you go forward, you’re all going to be taking tons of ownership of all the things you’re doing in your jobs. And I know that I speak for both of my co-hosts when I say, keep analyzing.

0:54:52.2 Announcer: Thanks for listening. Let’s keep the conversation going with your comments, suggestions and questions on Twitter at @analyticshour, on the web at analyticshour.io, our LinkedIn group, and the Measure Chat Slack group. Music for the podcast by Josh Crowhurst.

0:55:10.5 S5: So smart guys want to fit in, so they made up a term called analytics. Analytics don’t work.

0:55:16.8 S6: Analytics, oh my God, what the fuck does that even mean?

0:55:25.5 MH: So remember, both of you, that we give the ability to start or restart if needed. So as we’re going through the show…

[laughter]

0:55:31.8 MH: Sorry. Get that one. Got a last call, we do a last call at the end. And then at the end Tim might do a rock flag in some things, just don’t be surprised if that happens. We’ll get your mailing address later. Alright, I am ready.

0:55:56.1 MK: Tim, how is my audio? Does it sound alright? Because I’m testing out the new noise canceling AirPods, but I don’t want you to kill me if it sounds like shit.

0:56:01.9 TW: It sounds a little canned, but it’s fine.

0:56:05.8 MK: Do you want me to swap to my big ones?

0:56:10.9 TW: I don’t know.

0:56:11.6 MK: Or is Tim just losing his shit because I should have discussed this 20 minutes ago when we weren’t recording?

0:56:15.4 TW: No, I was more thinking you had two months to order a new microphone. [chuckle]

0:56:22.7 MH: Hey.

0:56:22.7 TW: Oh wait, that came out. Damn it. Tim, you’re gonna be… You’re fine. It’s good.

0:56:29.2 MK: Well, the question is, am I helping or am I owning my microphone situation?

0:56:33.9 MH: You’re definitely just helping. And maybe not even doing that. [laughter] Okay, let’s dive in. So, Moe, you originally brought up this topic. If you want to kind of kick us off and…

[laughter]

0:56:58.0 MH: Alright.

0:57:00.2 TW: Let’s make a shift…

0:57:00.4 MH: Some things don’t transfer too well in the audio format, but the look Moe just gave me is the best one ever.

[laughter]

0:57:18.1 MH: I’m sorry, Moe.

0:57:20.5 MK: So, do you know last night, last night I was like I need to re-read this article because, knowing Michael, he’s just gonna palm it straight off to me after the introduction, and then of course I didn’t read the introduction, that’s exactly what happened. I literally was like, make sure that Michael’s not going to do this, and I got so busy with the microphone that I forgot to check.

0:57:45.8 MH: So yeah, we’re a tad rusty here at the Power Hour. Classic. Meeting expectations since 2004.

0:57:58.5 TW: Rock flag, and own your vibe.

[laughter]

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