common themes
May 13, 2024

Common themes with the end in sight: identifying the themes

By Paul Laughlin

Later this year I hope to retire, to hang up my boots finally, so it comes time to bring the story of this blog to a close with some common themes. Like many people, I enjoy a novel with a well-crafted ending that ties up lots of loose ends. There is a very satisfying sense of closure for the reader. So, despite the limits of my literary talent, let me try and do the same for this blog.

In this post, I’ll use three approaches to help identify common themes from the 10 years of blog publishing. I’m keen to identify what have been consistent strands woven through it, as well as any incomplete content or loose ends to tie up. For both types of threads, I intend to then leave closing thoughts with you over subsequent posts.

So, given that intention, how should I identify those themes or loose ends? Well, given my interests, I’ve decided on 3 options that hopefully highlight different emphases. First, in this age of Generative AI, I will ask ChatGPT to summarise the key messages from this blog. Second, I will share my own memories of the other key messages I have sought to add to a wider conversation. Finally, I will ask for your input. What has helped you and what other questions do you have for me to answer before I stop?

Identifying our common themes using Generative AI

Of the many apps I could have chosen, I settled for Chat GPT as probably the most well-known (although Copilot may be changing that as mass adoption grows). As ever when using Chat GPT (4 or 5) prompt tweaking makes all the difference. Through experimentation, I found that the most helpful request was: “Which themes from are most unique compared to other blogs?” That query prompted this helpful summary of the more unique topics over the last 10 years:

  1. Customer Psychology Insights: Delving into the psychological aspects of customer behaviour and decision-making, which goes beyond traditional data analysis and incorporates principles from psychology and behavioural economics.
  2. Qualitative Research Methods: Providing insights into qualitative research methodologies such as ethnographic studies, focus groups, and customer interviews, which offer rich, nuanced insights into customer perceptions and motivations.
  3. Leadership and Organisational Culture: Addressing how leadership and organizational culture impact customer-centricity and the successful implementation of customer insights within businesses.
  4. Cross-Functional Collaboration: Emphasizing the importance of collaboration across different departments within an organization to effectively leverage customer insights and drive meaningful change.

What pleases me about that summary is to see these identified as not covered as much by other blogs, a fact confirmed when I focussed on other data & analytics & data science blogs. I hope that one thing I have offered over the last decade is a voice to speak up about the continued importance of all the above. My time leading a cross-functional team of research, data engineering, analytics & data science professionals taught me that each matters. So, I will plan to write at least one more post on the need to not neglect these aspects, even whilst other topics are more trendy right now.

Which of those topics would you like me to post on again before I close this blog? Please let me know by email:

Remembering common themes from the series I have shared

Perhaps the most obvious recurring on this blog, that I am surprised was missed by ChatGPT, is my 9-step model for softer skills. Over the years I have shared a number of different perspectives on this model. Given I have also seen how much it has helped in training analytic teams, it made sense to share it here too. I hope it has been helpful. As a reminder, here are the different perspectives I have shared on that model:

  1. My first proposal of need for this model
  2. The neglect that prompted me to share this
  3. Step by step introduction to the model (series)
  4. How the model can help you with interview prep
  5. The mindset (subpersonality) needed for each step (series)
  6. Bringing the model to life via Anna’s story (fiction series)
  7. How this model also applies to data leaders (series)

I hope you remember some of those series. It has been a delight over the last decade to see how many different ways a simple model helps. It can help shed light on things you are neglecting. It can help structure a range of concerns that are buzzing around your mind. Plus it can help you be more focussed in taking action on those concerns. A number of other posts have received feedback as having helped others (including Competency Framework, My experience with Outsourcing & several boom reviews).

Which of the above or others topics would you like to hear more about? Please let me know by email:

What have you found most helpful? Any more questions for me?

So, given I will soon be going, it comes time to ask you my dear readers. My main motivation for keeping this blog going for a decade has been to help others. So, I have two reasons to ask to hear from you. Firstly, I’d love to hear any stories about how content on this blog has helped. If I get enough of those, I may even decide that it’s worth publishing an e-book. Do you have a story to share?

Secondly, I would like to give a last opportunity for any questions. Those who’ve been on my training courses know I like to encourage plenty of those. So, now is the time for you to ask anything you want to know before I stop. Feel free to ask anything that you would like me to write about on this blog. I am about to change to a life focussed more on my faith, family & fun. But, before I go, I’ll happily pass on any wisdom I’ve gained over so many years working in this area.

My plan is to fully close this blog within a month. The podcast will run for longer, but will close sometime this summer. But there are a couple of options for some of the content continuing. The book reviews will be copied to Amazon & Goodreads, in a hope that other readers are helped there. The jury is out on what to do with my many Opinion posts. Those include the series mentioned above. If there is sufficient interest, I will export & edit them into a PDF to be shared with those who register an interest.

If you would value such an e-book, please request a copy by email: