Posts filed under “The Decoded Company”

Chinese Edition of The Decoded Company!

Instragram: @foushy

A quick post to share some news!

I just received one of the first copies of the Chinese Edition of The Decoded Company! I’m so happy that our work will continue to reach new markets!

Hopefully, this will lead to more trips to Asia, one of the places I haven’t visited as much as I’ve wanted to!


Technical Literacy and Budget: 2 Hurdles for Big Data? [Amsterdam]


Thalys Train

This post is a part of my thinking around the concepts I wrote about in my latest book, “THE DECODED COMPANY: KNOW YOUR TALENT BETTER THAN YOU KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS.”  You can see some of my other thoughts about big data, organizational culture and talent management HERE

I’m currently writing this from the Thalys train that is speeding from Amsterdam back to Paris. I am marvelling at the wonders of the modern age: traveling between two countries (three if you count our stop in Brussels) is seamless and I am comfortable and happy thanks to roomy seats and free wifi. One of the main benefits of living in Europe has been access to these amazing trains systems. I always prefer trains to the security hassle of removing shoes and putting liquids in tiny plastic bags. 

I was in Amsterdam keynoting  an event, and the conversations I had with some of the attendees afterwards got me thinking. Data literacy and budget constraints are the two hurdles I hear about most frequently that are standing in the way of organizations interested in embracing the Decoded Model.


1. The Decoded Model is a Philosophy

The great thing about the Decoded Model is that it encompasses a unifying philosophy to integrate analytics, not just a tactical response. This means that you can have 10 companies who are using the Decoded Model in 10 very different ways. This isn’t a solution  you pull off a shelf and plug into your organization. It’s a very powerful resource that helps bridge strategic vision,  cultural objectives and analytics together in a cohesive and coordinated way. So if you’re a small team or a huge multinational, our thinking around people, technology, and culture can be successfully implemented.


2. Being Decoded is not binary: It’s a spectrum

For some reason, there is this weird, persistent belief that implementing Big Data initiatives is an all or nothing approach. This is not true! Being Decoded falls on a broad spectrum. A small team who is looking to implement Technology as a Coach to create customized learning is going to have a different budget and scale than a company with 30,000 employees seeking to do the same. They are both applying the principle but in very different ways. This is good news: it means that no matter what your constraints are there is a spot for you to become Decoded in a way that makes sense for you and your team. This goes double for your technical competency: you don’t have to know how to code or be familiar with databases and algorithms to get started. In writing the book, we made sure to include experiments and easy to complete tasks that addressed a variety of skill levels.


3. Money isn’t the issue.

The other big issue that gets mentioned quite often is always about money. Isn’t data expensive? Clients tell me that they don’t have the budget to invest in customized analytical solutions. Once again, budget is a constraint that falls on a spectrum. A small company with limited budget shouldn’t have to invest hundreds of thousands (or millions) into a customized platform. It doesn’t make sense! Instead, when looking at the Decoded Model know that there are many inexpensive or free tools that can help you get started without a large capital investment.

I should note that while there are a multitude of ways to implement data and analytics inexpensively, doing so will always require a significant investment of time: it will take awhile to familiarize yourself with the new and available tools and  to deeply examine your own systems and processes to spot areas where you can apply the Model. I wrote a few months ago about some easy ways for companies to track their productivity, that you can use to help you get started right away.


Don’t Psych Yourself Out!

The biggest hurdle is often a mental one: letting go our beliefs or assumptions about what we think big data and how we can use it to make better decisions. Remember, if you have a piece of paper and a pen – you can be Decoded. Know how to use an excel spreadsheet? You can be Decoded. Have a budget of $0? You can be Decoded.

Interested in applying the Decoded Model to your team? Check out my MasterClass.



If you’re interested in staying updated about my research, upcoming books and general cool things I find online, sign up for my monthly newsletter and get my best stuff first. Subscribe!  

Be Informed Not Afraid. Don’t let Big Data Scare You.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 11.23.04 AM

The Arcadia (via P&O Events)

This post is a part of my thinking around the concepts I wrote about in my latest book, “THE DECODED COMPANY: KNOW YOUR TALENT BETTER THAN YOU KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS.”  You can see some of my other thoughts about big data, organizational culture and talent management HERE


Data Is Everyone’s Responsibility

Last week, I had the opportunity to keynote the IT Directors Summit and HR Forum at a very interesting venue: a cruise ship. Getting there was an adventure, my very own version of trains, planes and automobiles! I took the Eurostar from Paris to London followed by the Gatwick Express to the airport. I few to Guernsey, a small island in the UK that is apparently also a phenomenal tax shelter. Finally, I boarded a small tender that took me aboard the Arcadia.

I spoke about the importance of understanding the possibility of analytics – not just from a technical standpoint but from a strategic and cultural perspective as well. Too often, many people assume that Big Data (or not-so-big data as we call it) is outside of their job function – and this couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is this: data is everyone’s responsibility.

As an employee it is up to you to be informed and engaged with your organization’s data policies. We must each be accountable for own data footprint and that means asking for clarity and transparency when needed.

  • Do you know exactly what data your employers are tracking?
  • Do you know how they collect it?
  • What do they do with it?


The Vital Role of Transparency: The Corporate Public Record

Many employers cover some of these policies in handbooks but it never hurts to get extra clarifications. For example, many organizations use swipe cards for security purposes.  At my co-authors’ company, Klick, the door swipe data is used to track your location and the number of steps you take – information that has been very transparently communicated and easy for people to access and understand. Klick has taken the time to explain to their employees exactly what purpose they have in mind for the data: in this case the number of steps is used to foster friendly competition between colleagues to see who can take the most steps and encourage a culture where people make healthy choices by taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Guernsey. Flickr: stephoto, CC

As an employer or manager, you must make sure you asking the right questions about any new data initiatives to make sure they are ethical, transparent, and helping to build a positive work culture. In The Decoded Company, we outline a set of guidelines to help executives assess the ethicalness of their policies. We stress the importance of being open and transparent about the data being collected and introduce the concept of the Corporate Public Record – job-focused metrics that can be used to measure performance without invading an employee’s privacy.  Too often, we let technology or a desire for more data blind us to the cultural ramification of introducing invasive data policies that end up breaking trust and damaging the working environment.


Pairing Culture and Analytics Is Key

Klick has been very clear about not using data for punitive purposes. The swipe card data that tracks when you get into work and when you leave are never used against you in performance reviews or reprimands. However, it is used to help Klick’s managers make better informed decisions. For example, if an employee has stayed late several nights in a row, Klick’s analytical system will ping their manager to let them know there might be a workflow issue. The purpose of this data is to help establish organizational culture norms: Klick values work/life balance and the company does not want to see employees staying late. This information is used to start a conversation that can uncover an underlying issue such as the need to hire more staff to handle demand. It enables managers to spot an employee who is at risk of being burned out and overworked before disaster strikes.


Interested in applying the Decoded Model to your team? Check out my MasterClass!


If you’re interested in staying updated about my research, upcoming books and general cool things I find online, sign up for my monthly newsletter and get my best stuff first. Subscribe!  

DECODED wins Gold Axiom Award!

I’m delighted to announce that The Decoded Company has won a Gold Axiom Award for best 2015 business book in the Business Technology category. We tied for first place with Walter Issacson’s The Innovators, which is a huge honor!  To see the entire list click here.


Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 1.24.49 PM


From the website:

In August of 2007, Jenkins Group launched the Axiom Awards, “designed to honor the year’s best business books and their authors and publishers.” Now, eight years and 3,000 entries later, we announce the winners of the eighth annual, 2015 Axiom Business Book Awards, honoring the year’s best business books, their authors, and publishers.

The Axiom Business Book Awards are intended to bring increased recognition to exemplary business books and their creators, with the understanding that business people are an information-hungry segment of the population, eager to learn about great new books that will inspire them and help them improve their careers and businesses.


[Data] Decoding Prince Charming: A tale of quantified love #thedecodedcompany

This post is a part of my thinking around the concepts I wrote about in my latest book, “The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers.”  You can see some of my other thoughts about big data, organizational culture and talent management here

I came across this very funny TED talk about a woman who used analytics to find her ideal partner. As I watched, I realized she was basically using the Decoded Model to find a man- which is awesome. The personal application of the Decoded model was an ongoing discussion between the authors as we wrote the book. I kept joking that I wanted to write a follow up applying the same model to our personal lives, and now, watching Amy’s story I think the idea has some real merit!

I decided to treat this as a case study and analyzed Amy’s behaviour based on the model’s three principles.


The Story: 35 in a million – not the best odds

According to the data she collected, Amy Webb realized that her strategy of dating through serendipity was ineffective. She lives in Philadelphia, and started by crunching some numbers. Out of a population of 1.5 million people, if half the population was male, then based on her dating criteria (age range, religious background, hobbies) combined with the probability of reciprocal chemistry, there were only 35 men in the whole city that would be a good match for her.

Amy didn’t like those odds and formulated a new plan: online dating. I am going to summarize her approach within the context of the Decoded Model.

Online Dating

Amy liked online dating because these sites use algorithms to determine compatibility. At first, this approach failed because her suggested matches were all terrible, including one gem of a prince who ditched her at an expensive restaurant with a $1300 bill. Ouch.

The problem was the algorithm  relied on data points that were superficial and self-reported. As you know, the decoded model recommends a mix of both self-reported and ambient data so that you’re not completely skewed by your own biases.

She tried a new approach: to treat the dating sites as databases to collect the necessary information to reverse engineer her own perfect match.


1. Data as a Sixth Sense: What is love? A 72 Point Checklist.

Data as a Sixth Sense is about collecting all the data possible so that you can gain valuable insights. By pairing instincts with analytics, we can gain a perspective that’s grounded in data but tempered by experience. It also helps you see things that  you might otherwise miss.  Amy embraced this principle fully by first going on a fact finding mission. She wanted to be very clear about what she was looking for.

  • She created a list of data points (72!) of the most important characteristics she wanted in a mate.
  • She prioritized the list based on a first tier and second tier state of importance.
  • She built a scoring system to mathematically calculate whether or not the guy would be a good match.  A prospective date would have to score a minimum of 700 points to be eligible for an email response. 900 points guaranteed a date and 1500 points meant there was real long term viability.


Technology as a Coach: Learning to write a better profile

Technology as a Coach is about using technology to show you how to improve your performance. Once Amy had implemented her system she found several matches, but there was a snag: the men she was picking didn’t like her back. So she used technology as a coach and created a system to improve her own performance on the dating site.

  • She found and researched other women on the site who would be vying for the same men.
  • She created 10 fake male profiles to conduct “market research,” to gather data about everyone else in the system.  To be clear, she didn’t catfish anyone, she just monitored the requests she got without responding or engaging. She only collected data on the type of women that would be attracted to the same type of man that she was and analyzed that information to find common traits of success.
  • She looked at qualitative  (the language they would use) and quantitative (how long their profiles were) data.
  • She found out that content matters: smart people write longer profiles 3,000 to 5,000 words, but the popular people write very short profiles averaging about 97 words and they use non-specific language to appeal to a broader audience.
  • Popular women on the site waited on average 23 hours between communication.

Amy used this information to learn about what would work and what wouldn’t and she created what she called  a “super profile” that applied all of these best practices.


Engineered Ecosystems:

Engineered Ecosystems is about using data to create the type of culture that you want. To use quantitative feedback to seed the types of behaviour and values that you want to amplify. Amy did this through the combination of the first two steps. Now, armed with a super profile, and a data scoring system that quantified the values she wanted to her future partner to possess, she was ready to engineer her own ecosystem of love.

  • Her new super profile yielded many offers but she stuck with her scoring system and only responded to men who had crossed the necessary threshold of optimal compatibility.
  • She met a man who scored 850 points, and after going on a great first date, she rescored him to a whopping 1050 points!
  • She ended up marrying that man and they now share a beautiful daughter named Petra.




Amy was able to use the data around her to gain better insights into her own behaviour (data as a sixth sense), she leveraged the technology to be a learning tool to help improve her performance (technology as a coach) and she quantitatively used data to identify the values and traits she wanted to amplifying, making it easy for her to select the right person (engineering ecosystems).

I really had a great time watching Amy’s story and it has fueled my interest in finding other examples of how people are applying the Decoded principles in their own lives to attain better results. You can see the video below.



If you would like to learn more about how you can apply The Decoded Model within your own organization (or your love life?), feel free to email me as I often (time permitting) take on a few clients to help implement our principles. You can contact me here.


If you’re interested in staying updated about my research, upcoming books and general cool things I find online, sign up for my monthly newsletters and get my best stuff first. Subscribe!