I’m guessing this has happened to you.
When I was Vice President of Database Marketing at Nordstrom, I reported to the Chief Marketing Officer. The CMO at a ten billion dollar a year business has a lot of responsibility, and a whopper of a budget to boot! We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars From a corporate standpoint, this was an important person, one that could genuinely do something with the analytical insights produced by my team.
I had a weekly “touch base” with my boss. She was one of the best I’ve ever worked with in both keeping this meeting on the schedule, and for paying attention to me when I was sitting in front of her. You have to understand, it’s not easy for non-analytics staff to sit across from an analytics person and have to digest every proprietary analytics acronym issued her direction during the course of an hour. There are only so many times a CMO can hear phrases like “heteroscedasticity” or “optimization” before wanting her administrative assistant to enter the office with a fake meeting request that she is allegedly required to attend, immediately.
But there’s a big difference between the blank stare that is initiated from boredom/indifference, and the other blank stare.
The other blank stare?
You know the one I am talking about.
It’s when you have a great idea, one backed up by data, and you make what you feel is an iron-clad case in defense of your idea.
Yes, that blank stare.
Now, I’ve given that blank stare to my analysts, thousands of times. There are probably hundreds of reasons why I did this. Here’s three of the most common reasons.
The last point is the most common one I run across. Analysts all over the world are offering ideas that result in blank stares. Empty, hollow blank stares. Often, the blank stares happen because the person sitting across from the analyst knows that there is almost no chance that, politically, the idea can be accepted and implemented.
When this happens to you, the humble analyst, ask questions.
It’s better to find out why the idea isn’t being accepted, than to sit there trying to interpret a blank stare.
And if you find out that your boss doesn’t think that your idea can be pushed through the culture, from a political standpoint, then find somebody in your company who may be able to help you. At Nordstrom, there were a lot of ideas that my boss didn’t like, but another Executive adored. So I evangelized, finding partners who could get my ideas through the culture. And when I exhausted those opportunities, I moved on to new ideas.
The blank stare symbolizes a potential problem. Please ask questions, so that you can learn why your ideas are not being embraced by leadership.
By: Kevin Hillstrom, President, MineThatData