Top 5 Mentoring Lessons Learned in the Analysis Exchange
Last week, as I finished my first mentorship in the Analysis Exchange, I spent some time reflecting on what I learned from my first project and what I would carry into the next. While I had some reservations about pursuing this fabulous web analytics opportunity initially, it was a great experience that I would recommend for non-profit organizations, students and mentors alike. None of the below lessons caused our project to fail, quite the contrary, but in the spirit of continuous improvement, these are opportunities going forward that will hopefully help others in my shoes as well. Live and learn is the name of the game, right?
Time Management. Before committing to the project, think about time management. Will this project, given differing time zones require you to use any time from your full-time position? Do you need to make arrangements to reserve this time for Analysis Exchange (AE)? In my situation, our organization was based in Switzerland with a student in Oregon and me in Missouri. There were limited times we could meet that wouldn’t mean one of us was losing sleep. I did make efforts to minimize the AE work during my work day, which was helpful. In our virtual working world, this won’t be a problem for most, but thinking through the logistics of how this will work is worth the planning effort.
Project Plan. This may seem like a given but once I began the project, I was so impressed with my student I didn’t feel a written project plan was of the utmost importance. We had a plan with the organization, but it would have been helpful to have a written plan between the student and I to ensure we were both in synch regarding back off dates to review, edit and finalize the presentation. We worked together harmoniously but this may have been helpful in the end when we became a bit crunched for time.
Mentor the Organization as much as the Student. One of the points of feedback I received from the organization we worked with is that they didn’t receive many personal web analytics recommendations from me directly. This surprised me at first because many of my suggestions had been incorporated and presented by the student. My view of the project was that it was the student’s project and I would add background value, helping the student to shine. What I failed to think through is that the organization didn’t see all of the back and forth communication between the student and I. He wouldn’t recognize my efforts or contributions and understandably so. The value of the mentor role then becomes a bit vague for the organization. For the next project, I will try to engage the organization in the conversations the student and I have separately. This may mean a mid-project call or two with the organization, student and I, but will help the organization learn just as much as the student.
Rehearse , rehearse, rehearse. As I mentioned, my student impressed me. He far exceeded my expectations of the caliber of analytical skills I would find with the students in the AE. Most of our communications were via email, which worked very efficiently. However, in hindsight, another opportunity to provide feedback and help the student grow is by rehearsing the presentation on a call. Part of the challenge of web analytics is delivering insightful analysis in a very simple and easily digestible format. Presentation is half of this battle. Providing feedback to the student regarding presentation style, flow, and timing just can’t be done as thoughtfully via email alone.
Just Do It. Before participating in the Analysis Exchange, I was apprehensive of if I could do it. I won’t even elaborate on the reasons why because they just seem silly now. The Analysis Exchange is such an amazing experience for all parties involved. What other prospect exists to do what you love while helping others learn and giving back to very worthy non-profit organizations? None that I’ve seen. Nike got this one very right – next time, I’ll just do it.
Have you been a mentor, student or organization participating in the Analysis Exchange? What lessons did you learn along the way? What would you do differently the next time around?
Submitted by Analysis Exchange Mentor, Angie Bledsoe
Analysis Exchange Announces Scholarship Program
We are incredibly happy to announce the creation of the Analysis Exchange Scholarship Fund. You can read the press release and learn more about the effort at the Analysis Exchange web site, but in an nutshell thanks to the generosity of ObservePoint and IQ Workforce we are now able to financially support Analysis Exchange member’s in their efforts to expand their web analytics horizons. To read more about this effort, click here.
Analysis Exchange Spotlighted on the Google Analytics Blog!
Thanks to Phil Mui and the Google Analytics Team for helping spread the word about the Analysis Exchange.