Monday, February 03, 2014

Finding the Needle in the Haystack

My mentor used to have a saying:

They are never going to do it, but they will love that you did it for them.

I’ve found that mantra be true in almost every area of business, from public speaking to sales and marketing to client service to mentoring relationships. The trick is keeping your antennas up for new ways to leverage it.

A few months ago, I was doing research for a strategic planning project when I came across a goldmine of a website. Glassdoor listed over a thousand anonymous employee reviews for the very company I was auditing.

The best part was, most of them were scathing.

And I thought to myself, wow, there is no way human resources has read any these.  

Why would they? They’re busy professional with millions of dollars to protect, thousands of employees to manage, hundreds of tasks to accomplish and dozens of meetings to attend. They simply don’t have the time.

I do.

So I started reading, annotating, classifying, synthesizing and interpreting every one of the thousand reviews. The work was tedious, but by the end of the week, I had accumulated a massive collection of valuable insights and strategic recommendations. And that document became a leverageable asset to be used subsequent meetings and presentations.

Now that’s what I call big data.

The lesson is, if you know they’re never going to do it, why not do it for them? Sweat, diligence and volume, combined with surprise, delight and generosity makes for one hell of an interactional combination.

Show people you’re willing to find the needle in the haystack.

Then poke them in the ass with it.