How To Get People to Value Your Analytics work — the Principle of Scarcity

It’s human nature for people to want what they can’t have. Even Adam, the first man, couldn’t resist biting in to the apple of temptation. This explains the influence principle of scarcity — if something is difficult to get, then someone will desperately want that thing. It’s obvious how this principle plays out in wide ranging fields such as marketing (“ACT NOW OR YOU’LL NEVER GET THIS SHINY OBJECT”) to dating (“That guy/girl is totally out of my league…and I want him/her”)

So how can you use the principle of scarcity to gain more influence in your analytics job? Warning: with great power comes great responsibility, so don’t use the principle of scarcity too overtly. Now that I’ve issued that warning, let’s move on.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never in my life had enough analytics manpower to support all of the initiatives that I’ve really wanted to do. Whether it’s in-depth social media analysis, product deep dives, or data warehouse repository projects, there’s literally not enough time in the day to get around to doing really important work that can drive the business forward in a meaningful way. This means that, as analysts, our time is actually a scarce commodity.

The unfortunate part is that no one, (maybe) save your boss, truly understands how overwhelmed you are and how scarce your time is. And most analysts are too afraid to stand up for themselves, so they bite off more than they can chew, which leaves the analyst frazzled. And if that’s not bad enough, everyone assumes that they’re the most important (and ONLY) analytics client. This leads to upset stakeholders who really don’t understand why it’s taking the analyst SO LONG to get to their REALLY IMPORTANT request. So how do you deal with this very common reality?

You know the answer already (because it’s the name of this blog post, duh): the principle of scarcity. All stakeholders need to be aware of how valuable your time really is. And since that time is so precious, you should make it clear that you will complete requests that are adding maximum value to the company. In the future, if someone is sending you a request that you deem to be less than worthy of your valuable time, try sending out e-mails in response to requests that say:

“Apologies, but I’m swamped with five other urgent requests from (MR or MRS VIP) right now, but I’d love to help you out as well!” Then mention something like (please don’t use these exact words and get me in trouble): “Can we brainstorm on how this request is really going to help you do your job better so that I really feel like I’m adding tons of value to what you do and I’m not wasting my time doing stuff that I don’t see is important? Kthxbai!”

Since your time is so valuable and you’re being pulled in so many different directions, you are the definition of a scarce commodity. And since you view yourself as a scarce (and therefore valuable!) commodity, others will view you in the same way. And they will therefore comply to work with you according to your rules and not theirs. This will help you maximize the value that you provide to your company, your boss, and your work colleagues.

Up next — the principle of authority.