what presents
December 10, 2020

What presents does Brand Santa really need this year?

By Paul Laughlin

As we enter the fun time at work, in the run-up to Christmas, I asked my guest bloggers to think about what presents they would recommend.

I had in mind the sort of presents a Boss might get their data, analytics or insight team. Or perhaps the presents suitable for data, analytics or insight leaders.

As a man always up for a challenge, Tony Boobier was first to reply. He rightly questioned how suitable the question is for solopreneurs like us, but then went on to create a great wish list for ‘Brand Santa‘ instead. I hope you enjoy this as just a bit of festive fun (that just might have some lessons for leaders too…

Christmas presents for a one-person business? Baa Humbug!

Asking what you might want from the boss is a bit of a hypothetical question for someone who is self-employed. I am both the boss and the workforce. There’s a lot of us around. A survey conducted in November 2020 by Statistica indicates that there are over one million self-employed workers in the professional sector in the UK alone (602k in professional and scientific, 236k in information and marketing, and 319k in administration and social services). 

But aren’t the self-employed also allowed to ‘treat ourselves’? In the spirit of Paul’s question, I reflected on what I might give myself for Christmas.

Did I perhaps want something physical or material? It feels like I have all the clothes I need at the moment, especially as (in Tier 3) we can’t really meet many people. I haven’t needed a new tie for years, and there are already plenty of socks in the drawer. I have a library of books to catch up on, and increasingly I find myself re-reading old favourites rather than starting new ones. With more experience, I seem to understand them better, and they give me new insights that I overlooked previously.

Perhaps new competencies for Christmas & beyond?

So maybe I don’t need anything material. Perhaps I should think about something less tangible? 

I’m always in need of more mentoring and support to develop new competencies. The future of work will force us to develop new personal capabilities going forward, with the pandemic proving extra impetus, and a bit of help getting there is always welcome, especially from Santa Claus.

(1) Effective communication skills > Digital version

Instead of the traditional competency of broadly effective communication skills. For the digital age, businesses need to know how to use digital media to be communicative, creative & transparent.

The proof points for Santa are: Never misses a letter from a child. Social media and Zoom savvy. Created the Santa Grotto franchise to ensure scalability Partnership with NASA.

(2) Understanding workforce trends > Digital version

Beyond just a broad understanding from surveys & futurologists. Going forward businesses need to use analytical performance management tools, intelligent systems for SWOT & PEST analysis

Santa’s proof points for this are: Effectively motivates Elf workforce, despite the fact that they only have one project each year. Focus on two key metrics which are timely delivery and customer delight. 

(3) Producing brand impact > Digital version

Moving beyond the result of brand tracking g studies. For the digital age, leaders need to create strong personal brands that are reinforced by an organisation’s use of technology.

Santa will see this through maintaining & reinforcing the Santa brand amidst pressure from consumer brands. Despite the competition, Santa still remains the Go-To Brand for Xmas.

(4) Focus on employee career development > Digital version

More is needed than the traditional focus on HR processes & establish career paths. In future, leaders need to develop the ability to empower employees. Aligning performance management tools with people & strategic objectives.

Santa’s proof point for this is that he understands how Elves progress through their career, initially with cuddly toys, all the way up to remote control gadgets.  

(5) Direct organisational change > Digital version

The traditional competency is in how to direct or at least deal with such change. For the digital age, leaders need entrepreneurial, flexibility, agility & responsiveness to continual uncertainty & operational fluidity.

Santa will see this through his ability to maintain a reliable and effective global service despite the disruption of a global pandemic.  

More from Santa or perhaps it’s a time for giving our digital skills?

There’s a lot on that list that I could put in my letter to Santa, but that’s not all. 

On the technology side, I’d also love Santa to give me a small glimpse into how he uses algorithms, or ‘Elforithms’ as they call them in the North Pole. I’d like to understand how he ensures that children always get the right present under the tree on time. His use of AI – ‘Arctic Insight’ – would be a particular personal delight.

But ultimately, isn’t the joy of Christmas not about receiving but about giving? This year I’ll use my limited audiovisual skills for the local Rotary Club as a ‘Zoom Santa’. I’m sure that the act of ‘giving’ will provide me with as much personal pleasure as getting something under the tree. 

Merry Christmas!

Santa Boobier

Do you have opportunities to help spread ho ho ho?

Thanks, Tony for your list. A great build on the update on Santa’s use of Big Data provided by Mango Software a few years ago.

I’d love to hear any ideas you have for what you or others really need this Christmas. Perhaps you’ve also had the opportunity to give back to your community with the digital fluency you’ve learnt this year. All heartwarming stories gratefully received. Best wishes.