{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Analytics Amnesty and Change Management

{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Analytics Amnesty and Change Management

In this week’s episode, Katie and Chris examine the concept of analytics amnesty as part of change management. When you know things are wrong or broken, and you’re committed to making a change for the better, you may need to declare amnesty – a reboot that removes any and all blame for the way things used to be. Learn more about analytics amnesty and what obstacles you might encounter as part of your change management efforts.


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{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Analytics Amnesty and Change Management

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Christopher Penn 0:17

In this week’s in In-Ear, Insights, let’s talk about declaring amnesty.

Specifically analytics amnesty.

And this is a topic that has come up again and again with regards things like change management and, and helping organizations make a transformation from being sort of data curious to data driven.


Amnesty means you declare a point in time, when you say, Hey, we’re making all these big changes, big changes to our people, to our processes to our platforms.

And we’re going to agree that everything that has happened before, we’re no longer going to rely on AI, we’re not going to blame anybody at all for how things used to be set up, we’re starting fresh.

Katie, you love to say, Today’s a great day to get started with something new.

And this concept of atmosphere, I think it has to be the flip side of today’s a great day because it means we also have to say today is a great day to say we’re not going to hold you accountable for the way things used to be.

Because we know it was wrong.

You see, well, I’ll talk more about how this relates to change management.

Katie Robbert 1:22


And you know, that point that you’re driving home, the no blaming, is really going to be the measure of success.

So in regards to change management, I mean, even if you’re doing something like this, where it feels like it’s only data focus, you still have to factor in things like well, what’s the purpose of it? You know, why are you suddenly making this change in your data? Who were the people involved? Not just the people who are changing the data, but the people who would be impacted by the changes in data? So what is the communication plan around the data changing? That’s the piece that’s most often missed? is letting people know what’s happening and why.

And then the process that you’re going to go through not, again, not just the process of changing the data, but the process of rolling out the new, sort of the new normal of data, you know, how are you going to let customers know? How are you going to let board members know, stakeholders know, people all the way down, you know, to, you know, the front desk and operations managers know, because when you make a change like this, there’s going to be widespread, you know, impact.

And then you have the platforms themselves? Is it just one platform? Is it multiple platforms? Are there integrations you need to factor in? You know, who’s going to be responsible for the data quality? And then the performance, which is what is your measure of success? How do you know that you did the thing.

And again, this is not just about the data itself being better quality, and more correct, but it’s about everybody getting on board, a measure of success is that everybody is on board with the plan and agrees to the plan, and sticks to the plan.

And so, so for example, you know, Chris, let’s say, you and I realize that our Google Analytics has been set up incorrectly for the past four years.

And, you know, all of the numbers that we’ve been reporting on to our board or you know, to potential investors have been completely incorrect.

We make a plan to fix it, we communicate it, but six months down the line, I decide, you know, what, this was all Chris’s fault.

We’re just, I’m just going to have to find a new co founder.

That is means that the plan failed, because I did not stick to the plan that I agreed with, in terms of this analytics, amnesty.

Christopher Penn 3:48

So how do you how do you because that’s a people problem, right? That is that 100% A dealing with people and their sticky, gooey emotions and stuff.

How do you create that plan in a way that’s going to succeed? Because it is entirely possible, like I was looking at our Google Analytics for account the other day, we set that up the day it came out.

And I have not kept up with it.

You know, I went back in a couple weeks ago, and fixed a whole bunch of things.

How do you create that analytics MSE plan so that it succeeds so that we’re not playing the blame game?

Katie Robbert 4:30

It starts with a lot of discovery and so really trying to figure out what really happened and so you know, you’re not a crime scene detective.

You’re not looking for the suspect and you’re not looking to bring someone to trial.

The end this is this is hard.

I’m just going to preface this with this is a really difficult thing to do.

And it’s why not a lot of companies are successful in doing this is you have to remove emotion from the discovery process.

You have to remove people On the discovery process in terms of finding out what happened.

So if we’re going through this exercise for ourselves, and we say, okay, Google Analytics four was set up incorrectly, as I’m putting together the information of what happened, nowhere in that account, can I say, Chris mess this up, or Chris didn’t know what he was doing, or, you know, Chris was going through it too quickly and wasn’t paying attention, I actively need to remove you from the conversation and really talk about in terms of the system was set up in this way.

Trust Insights knew this much about the system at that time, here are the things that have changed about that system, and really keep it almost kind of cold and emotionless in order to protect the people, which feels like a lot of work.

But you know, the bigger organization gets, the more it’s going to be like, Okay, well, Joe didn’t do this.

And Susan didn’t do that.

And Bettina did this.

And you know, Jose did that.

And it’s like, none of that is productive.

at all, it’s a really hard exercise to do.

And it’s why a lot of companies bring in outside consultants, like Trust Insights to do that kind of work.

Because we’re, we don’t have that emotional investment in the thing.

Obviously, we want to see people succeed, but we weren’t there.

So we don’t have the emotion and the backstory, and even some of the politics, we’re not involved in that stuff.

Christopher Penn 6:31

But how do you, you know, let’s say you have a stakeholder named Bob, right? And Bob says, you know, right up front, okay, I need you guys to come in.

And and, you know, tell us what’s wrong, fix it, tell me who I need to fire? How do you change Bob’s point of view? To eliminate that last part to say like, yeah, you know, what, that’s probably not the most productive way to handle the situation.

Let’s, let’s maybe think about that a little bit differently.

Katie Robbert 7:01

Well, I mean, that statement that you just said, is a great place to start.

And so helping Bob understand that approach is not going to be super productive.

And so, you know, he’s gonna say, but I need to pin this on someone, I need to fire someone.

And so, you know, I think the conversation that I would have a lot of the time, it’s like, well, you know, I think that it’s shared accountability, it’s, you know, in these situations, it’s never just one person acting alone.

You know, it’s okay, Bob, are you responsible for that person success? Okay, then you have to share in the blame.

So you got to fire yourself as well, you know, and so really helping them understand all of the different pieces.

And so let’s say, you know, for example, you know, Bob is asking me, do I need to get rid of Chris? Well, my job as the person who’s doing all of discovery, is to help Bob understand the full picture of how either Chris was not given the tools to be successful.

The systems were out of place one day, but then Chris has not been given the time to go back to that keep the systems updated.

And so it’s not it’s not to say that Chris, at the end of the day was the one who pushed the buttons.

But looking for someone to blame and looking for someone to fire is not productive unless I unless during discovery, and this has happened, I find out that Chris acted maliciously, and Chris purposely set things up incorrectly.

That is a scenario that happens, but it’s not a common scenario.

Most common is that things were set up.

And people walked away and moved on to other things, periods.

And that’s the story that I would need to paint to Bob to understand.

It’s not a crisp problem.

It’s an organizational problem, where you’re not allowing your team members enough time to maintain these systems, you have to actively carve out the time for this work to be done on a regular basis, not just once a year when you’re doing your, you know, strategic planning sessions.

Christopher Penn 9:05


So I’ll put out play.

I guess, devil’s advocate, Bob’s advocates, blog as well, they should just know this, like they, that’s what we hired them for.

They should just know this.

Why don’t they know this? Why they should be able to do this.

We shouldn’t need to carve out extra time, we got to be productive.

Mm hmm.

Katie Robbert 9:23

And so then it becomes a conversation of, here’s everything going on, here are all of the priorities.

And so yes, Chris may know how to do this.

But Chris has not been given the time to do this.

And so if you want Chris to focus on this thing, here are the five other things that are on his plate that need to be pushed out or might not get done.

Are you okay with that? And I’m guessing I’ll be like, No, everything needs to get done.

Okay, great.

Then you need to hire another person.

Or you need to decide that this is just not that big of a deal and you need to go Shut your damn mouth.

I would not say that to Bob.

Not? Oh, I can’t say that.

I might say that to him.

It depends on how surly he’s seeing.

Christopher Penn 10:08

I could see that.

The challenge is what we call, it’s, it’s the pointy haired boss problem, which is, you know, for those who don’t read business cartoons, essentially, anything the boss doesn’t understand the boss assumes it must be easy, right? And therefore, it should already be done.

Given that that is such an ingrained cultural thing.

And a lot of companies, particularly older, risk averse companies.

How do you start a change management perspective? Can you change that? Is that is that a changeable thing? Or is that something where, like, you know, this is something we got to live with, because this company has the story to 214 year old company that was founded at the same time, the pilgrims were setting up their their log cabins.

They’re just, that’s their culture.

That’s though they are sort of set in their ways.

And and I guess, almost, at what point is declared a lost cause?

Katie Robbert 11:11

Well, to pull a Chris Penn, it depends.

And it depends on a lot of things.

But really, it depends on the people because you can change processes, you can change platforms, like that’s actually the easy part, like, you can, you know, twist knobs and flip switches and say, We’re gonna do it this way from now on.

But unless you get people to buy in, it doesn’t matter.

And so it really depends on the company’s readiness to change.

So, you know, to paint some broad strokes, like, let’s say you have that culture where the company’s been around for 214 years, and the stakeholders are all above the age of 60.

It’s not to say that you can’t make movement in terms of changing things.

But historically speaking, in my experience, it’s harder, the longer people have been doing things, and quite honestly, you know, there is some sort of generational, you know, thinking around how certain things should be done.

Again, that’s not to say that every single person who falls into that category is going to feel that way.

You know, you may find someone who’s like, you know what, we’re doing it all wrong, let’s just shake it up and do it differently.

That’s fantastic.

If you can get at least one person in that decision making seat who is going to champion the work that you’re doing, you have a better chance of getting everybody else on board? Because like, oh, well, you know, Bob may not agree with what we’re doing.

But you know, Susan does agree with what we’re doing.

And Susan, being a decision maker can help the rest of the decision makers understand, so getting at least one champion on board at the decision maker level is going to help.

And so it really comes down to does this company even want to change? Are they ready to go through this change? Because it’s not an overnight process? It’s actually, you know, it can be a painful process, it can be a slow process, the willingness to change will dictate how quickly the change happens.

Christopher Penn 13:12

In terms of analytics, AMS D, then how would you correlate the two like is is the willingness to change? Does that go hand in hand with a willingness to declare amnesty? And not just on analytics? But on any on any prior change? Or do you are the decoupled Can you have one without the other?

Katie Robbert 13:34

You can probably have one without without the other, but I don’t think you’re going to see it very often.

And so as people, as companies have that willingness to change and do better, they are more likely to say, You know what, you’re right.

We weren’t doing that correctly.

So let’s just say the past is the past, let’s start to take steps forward to correct that maybe we don’t change everything overnight, but we start to incrementally change things.

And so I do feel like you’re going to see that willingness to change coupled with the ability to say yes, I declare amnesty on that or this is the day in which things are different.

Because if you have stakeholders, decision makers, company culture carriers, who are not willing to change, why would they go ahead and agree to such a large transformations?

Christopher Penn 14:25


In like, I’m just thinking in terms of even stuff that we do internally.

We have some processes and some people me mostly, that are a pain in the ass about change.

You know, our internal project management software has been a, a sticking point since the founding of the company.

Katie Robbert 14:52

And those are on a Monday morning.


I said you had to go there on a Monday morning.

Christopher Penn 14:57

Oh, you know, it’s fine.

We But in terms of creating change than declaring amnesty on the previous system and stuff like that, I don’t know that we have an amnesty issue in terms of like saying, like, Oh, we’re gonna forget our everything used to operate, this is the way it works now, but it’s still the aspect of trying to create change, right? In a person to use it.

Katie Robbert 15:21

Well, you know, and I think that that’s where a lot of managers would get fed up and say, Well, you just have to do what I’m telling you to do.

No questions asked.

And having been in that position, when I was younger, trying to use that card, like, I know, it doesn’t work, like, you might, you might just sort of yes, me to death, and then eventually be like, Okay, well, you know, she’s kind of impossible to work with.

So I’m just gonna start doing my own thing and kind of just move on and distance myself.

And so it starts to break down the professional relationship that you and I have built on trust and respect, if I start to behave that way toward you.

So you know, in the scenario, the one one of the ways to get around it, one of the ways to work with the challenges is to sort of do that risk assessment.

And so here’s what happens if we do nothing.

Here’s what happens if we make a big change, and then is there somewhere in the middle that we can meet? And so helping you understand maybe, from my perspective, why I feel we need this thing, and then me understanding from your perspective what your workflow is.

And then ultimately, it’s only going to be successful if we’re both willing to do the work.

And in this hypothetical scenario, I have not yet found that the other party is willing to hold up their end of the bargain.

And so therefore, we have not found the right, change, you know, the change management isn’t working, because not everybody’s participating in the way in which they agreed upon.

Christopher Penn 17:02


In terms of analytics, MSE, going back to what we were talking about earlier, one thing she said was sort of making a gradual transition from the wait, you know, instead of trying to make a big change overnight, the math nerd and me, doesn’t particularly like that, because it’s like, we’re going from wrong to slightly less wrong, as opposed to going from wrong to correct, you know, how do you how do you navigate that? So that you’re achieving the level of correctness you need? Like, like, Oh, you’re all your goals and goal values and Google Analytics are totally wrong.

I have a hard time stomaching the idea of well, now it’s just less wrong, like a little bit less fun was still mostly wrong from a from an analytics perspective, as opposed to the people perspective.

How do you how do you find that balance?

Katie Robbert 17:54

Well, I mean, think about, think about change in your own life as a person.

And I know that this is the part that you don’t want to hear.

But it really No, it really does come back to the people.

So the math is the math is the math, like that’s not going to change that that’s the constant.

That’s the thing that you have control over.

But if I told you, okay, Chris, I’m going to need you to put on 50 pounds by tomorrow.

And I need you to overhaul your diet today, immediately do all of these things differently, everything you’ve ever known is completely changed.

Your react would probably be like, Well, wait a minute, that’s a lot of change all at once.

I’m kind of overwhelmed.

Why do I have to do it this way? Can I do it a little bit more gradually.

And so that sort of the same reaction that people tend to have, when you’re overhauling things that they’re used to seeing, especially the longer things have been wrong, the harder it’s going to be to get people over that hump of that transition of this is everything new people might be excited, like I want to do this thing.

But you still need to give them time to adjust to here’s what’s new.

And so that’s not saying you can’t go ahead and fix everything in the system all at once, so that they’re having brand new data all at once.

But the way in which that data is then re rolled out and reintroduced and re educated.

If you try to do all of that at once, then at some point, people are just going to check out and stop listening and doing the muck around in their head and not even hearing the words that you’re saying.

And you’re going to be in this constant reeducation piece in this loop for a longer time, because you didn’t give the people enough time to really adjust to what’s new.

So in that scenario, you’re saying, let’s say all the goals and goal values and Google Analytics, we found out that they’re all incorrect.

Well, I would say we first need to figure out well, how many of them are there? And are they all one business line? Are they a bunch of different business lines? How off are they and then you start to prioritize? And that’s going to be uncomfortable for you as the person in fixing it, but it’s even more uncomfortable for the person who has to get the new set of information and talk through the data.

Because you may not be in those meetings where the data is being presented as the person fixing the information.

So the person who’s actually responsible for communicating the information also needs that time to adjust.

Does that make sense?

Christopher Penn 20:20

It makes sense.

But I think, because I think you hit on something really important there.

If the company doesn’t have a data driven culture, then it won’t stick.

If you said to me, you have to lose 50 pounds and change over your diet today.

And I said, why? And you told me because otherwise, you will be dead in a year.

But I guess I better go do that.

Because I want to live longer than a year.

And so there’s a tremendous high value need and urgency like okay, yes, I would like to live longer than a year.

So I will make these changes immediately and just nod my head and go along with it.

Whereas if I tell you, for example, your goals and goals that is a Google Analytics are completely wrong, you can’t you won’t get a forecast anything you like, we don’t forecast anything anyways, if we just guess.

And things are fine, then there’s no longer any sense of urgency.

And even though from a an analytics perspective, I’d say well, then, why are you even bothering with analytics? How do you then can you create that sense of urgency and perhaps fear? Or do you need to pivot the company’s culture first to be more data driven, so that they understand the value of this thing before you can even explain why they need to change?

Katie Robbert 21:33

You need to start with the culture and really understanding what it is they even care about.

And so if they don’t care about the data at all, okay, then that’s not the conversation you have, the conversation you then have is, you know, around customer satisfaction, for example, we know that there is still data behind that.

So they may not care.

But if you position it in a way in around the things they care about, you know, revenue, reputation, satisfaction, whatever the thing is, or employee retention, or, you know, snacks in the break room, well, guess what, you can continue to have snacks in the break room, if you fix this thing.

And then you can start to connect the dots, because if you fix this thing, you will then have more money.

You know, because you’re forecasting accurately, and therefore, you have more money to buy snacks for the break room, wouldn’t you like those chocolate covered pretzels.

And so you, you have to find the thing that the person cares about.

So, you know, for example, when I was in my 20s, I was a smoker, I smoked a pack and a half, two packs a day, I knew logically, that smoking was really bad for me, but emotionally, I didn’t care.

And so I had to find an emotional reason to quit, despite the logic that I understood about the harmful effects of smoking.

And, you know, eventually I did quit, and I’ve not been a smoker for more than 15 years.

But until I could make that emotional connection to why I needed to stop doing a certain thing.

It didn’t matter if I knew all the reasons in the world.

You know, I knew smoking could kill me, I knew I could get lung cancer, emphysema, I’ve seen the pictures of damaged lungs, like I knew all the things, I knew that my you know, most of my pocket money was going to buying cigarettes for no good reason I knew that my clothes smelled.

I knew all of those things.

And yet I didn’t have that emotional connection to wanting to quit.

And so that that’s one of the things about change management is you have to meet people where they are and find out what they care about and what they’re going to connect to.

Because just telling them, like, Okay, you have to change this because it’s going to be better for the company.

Well, I don’t care about the company.

I don’t even own the company, why do I need to change the thing? It’s not going to increase my paycheck.

Why do I care?

Christopher Penn 24:00

But doesn’t that create a paradox? analytics? Amnesty should be really easy in a company that doesn’t care about their analytics, like Yeah, sure, whatever change, it doesn’t matter.

Whereas if you have somebody who’s deeply invested, like no, you can’t change anything because my bonus relies on this information.

You’re telling me that everything that we reporting is wrong.

And you know, the company may have a clawback my bonus.

How do you balance that we we’ve now created the urgency but made analytics MC harder?

Katie Robbert 24:31

I think it’s okay, that the process to get to analytics, MSE is harder if people care if they are willing to do the work in the scenario of you know, they don’t care, okay? They don’t care.

Maybe they will never change and that’s okay, too.

It’s hard for the people who want to make the change and that’s you and I, Chris, but if the company itself doesn’t care, then let’s not waste our time.

You can’t make people care about something they have to get to that on there.

You can present to them all of the different options of things that they should care about.

But if they’re never going to care, then that’s fine, it’s not worth our time to try to fix the thing.

And then they can do with that information, what they will, we’ve done our job of tell of giving them all of the tools to success to say, if you do this thing, this will happen.

If you fix this, here’s the positive things.

But here’s also the negative side, if you don’t do it, and if they still don’t care, that’s fine, then they don’t need to change.

I mean, and that’s just the end of it, like, there will be some scenarios where the change does not work, because people don’t care.

And that’s okay.

So you let them not change.

I mean, we see this every day, you know, in our society, like people don’t care, they don’t care about the numbers, they don’t care about all the things that are going on around them, it does not change their opinions on these larger global situations, like, because they have not yet had that emotional connection to why they should be doing something.

Christopher Penn 26:01

As usual, people have the problem.

Katie Robbert 26:05

But that really is sort of the core of what we are trying to educate around with change management, you and I, we can, you know, make the most efficient process we can build the most, you know, shiny, pristine systems that collect the most amazing data.

But if there’s nobody who cares about it, it doesn’t matter.

And you know, it even goes into you know, all sorts of take it a step farther with Okay, let’s say you remove the people and just have the machines do all the work will spoil or guess who programs the machines Guess who has to make sure the machines are still plugged in? Guess who still has to oil the wheels to make sure that everything is turning around in the machine? The people that we hate so much.


Christopher Penn 26:48

I hate so much you know, like

Katie Robbert 26:50

I do.


Christopher Penn 26:57

Well, if you’ve got comments or questions or thoughts about change management projects that you’ve been a part of and how successful or not they were, drop us a line go to TrustInsights.ai dot AI slash analytics for marketers, where you have over 2200 other marketers are answering asking and answering each other’s questions all day long and sharing your stories about analytics and change management stuff.

And wherever it is you watch or listen to this episode of the show.

If there’s a platform you’d rather get it on set, chances are most of them are available at trust insights.ai/t AI podcast where you can find out the show in the format that suits you best.

Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll talk to you next time.

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