Pop Goes Business Analysis, Part IV: Sam Malone, the Feel-Good Diplomat
As we get closer to eMetrics NYC, and my presentation on Turning Executives into Analysis Believers, it’s time to add one of the final pop culture touchstones we talk about at Napkyn Global Headquarters.
A quick recap on past write-ups:
- Batman: The boss, not the analyst. A great executive-facing analyst knows who the hero of the story is, and works to empower them, not overshadow them.
- Doc Brown: Great analysts will hack together what they need from what they have, not just stay inside a given tool. They will also focus on the temporal nature of measurement, using the past and the present to predict the future.
- Columbo: Relevant analysis can’t exist in a vacuum. Constant interviewing of your internal stakeholders will help you learn their language and motivations, and ensure that your analysis is timely and relevant.
This week we are focusing on one of the least analytical and perhaps one of the most important of our pop culture references: Sam Malone from Cheers.
For those of you unfamiliar with Cheers (it was on TV for over a decade…), it was a sitcom about a group of regulars at a bar in Boston. Sam was the central character of the show. He was the owner of Cheers and the mainstay behind the bar.
Sam showcased all the qualities inherent in the ‘perfect bartender’ stereotype. He was a charmer and an amazing listener; strangers would often open up and tell him their problems (which he would then try and fix). He had a great memory for drink orders, bringing people what they wanted before they asked for it. This pathos and attention to detail is the glue that holds the motley group of regulars together, and creates a community within the bar.
I am guessing that Sam Malone would be a crappy analyst, at least from a data modeling perspective. I also guarantee that he would be very effective at knowing what his internal stakeholders needed, and create the kinds of relationships internally that would allow his findings to be both appreciated and used to best effect.
As a real world parallel, Napkyn has become the analyst several times in organizations where there is interdepartmental conflict – sales hates marketing; eCommerce doesn’t agree with Merchandising. Initially, we are often asked to ‘weaponize’ our reports, to frame the data in such a way where one group looks good and the other looks bad.
These situations are where the Sam Malone reference comes out. By being positive and proactive with all stakeholders, we try to do analysis that creates positive impact through alignment. The analyst has the ability to become the common person bringing together that motley group of personalities, which doesn’t just have the most impact on the business, it also positions the analyst in a much more important light than just someone who builds reports.
Getting an executive to care about analysis can sometimes have a whole lot more to do with customer service than Microsoft Excel.