If you’re in data overload, you may not need to be

You’ve heard the phrase: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I know it’s a disgusting mental image, but there’s wisdom in this metaphor. How often do you take on large projects and get mired down in the details—rather than breaking the project into small, digestible, actionable chunks? You’re overwhelmed with data and don’t know where to start, so you start everywhere. And nowhere.

I’m certainly like that. Well, at least I was until this past week.

What changed? I was wrestling with way too much to do. My mantra—“Do what’s closest to cash every day”—has always served me well, but I was struggling to make time for big projects that might have a long-term impact.

For example, updating my No More Cold Calling book has been on my list for awhile, but I knew I couldn’t take on such a huge project for the foreseeable future.

You know the saying: “The teacher arrives when the student is ready.” In the last week, I met two independent publishers who focus on small books (130 pages or less). I was given three of these books and read them all on my four-hour flight from Minneapolis to San Francisco.

I originally questioned small books—Do they look professional? Do they send the wrong message?

Then I thought of my readers. My clients are sales leaders—VPs of Sales, CROs, Sales Managers. They’re always on the run and never have enough time. Then came a blinding flash of the obvious: They’re not going to read a 300-page book. But they will read a short book with messages tailored for them. A smaller chunk, indeed.

I’m fired up, but don’t ask when it will be published. A better question: Joanne, when will you get started? I already have.

So, how can you apply the elephant-eating wisdom to your business? Read “Most Analytics Projects Don’t Require Much Data” by Thomas C. Redman and Roger W. Hoerl in the Harvard Business Review. Learn why you can expect a 40-person department to complete 20 projects a year with an amazingly high probability of success.

Want to learn about referral selling in small chunks? You don’t have to wait for the new book. Check out my LinkedIn Learning course on Referral Selling.

(Photo Credit: Ella Olsson)