I’ve long been fascinated by dreams. Bursts of subconscious ideas, passions, fears, wonders, and visions that dance in front of us and ask us to listen and pause. These bursts of ideas and experiences — whether you remember them or not — happen regularly throughout the night with the average person dreaming four to six times per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

For me, I feel lucky that I remember my dreams vividly. So much so that I keep a notebook by my bed so that I can jot down any major breakthroughs and perspective shifts, as well as things that require deeper attention from me (but not at 4 am!).

It’s often during my dreams that I do my most powerful problem solving. Because in a dream, constraints and limitations do not exist. The subconscious doesn’t care about feasibility or believability. It doesn’t worry about whether something makes sense. It goes out of order and sequence freely and happily. The dream may zig and zag down creative pathways but almost inevitably on the other side of the mystique is a pragmatic solution to enact or a next step to take.

When we dream, we imagine first. We envision, explore, adventure, and experiment with possibility. And sometimes, if we like what we see, we wake up and then figure out the HOW, so that we can turn what we saw into a reality.

But in the business world, we often start with the how, jumping to a thing we need to do, decision to make, move to make, etc. There’s little time to dream when execution is at the center. Even if we are so lucky as to find time to pause and consider how to turn good into great, our dreaming is many times centered around a pre-determined solution, and therefore constraints already surround the dream.

Think about your own world for a moment, particularly in the business context and consider, what would it look to dream first and ask how later? What new visions would you see? How much longer would you allow concepts to remain in ideation and incubation versus execution? And… what problems could you solve for if you didn’t impose limitation, the way it is, and constraints?

In many ways, the advent of advanced analytics and data innovation has paved the way for us to dream first and solve for how next. Here are a few areas in business in which it’s OK to dream first and then apply data as the how after…


Rev-Generating Teams

The notion of being a revenue-generating function or profit-center is nothing new… especially for functions like sales, marketing, service delivery, etc. But instead of jumping straight to the how (e.g. how do we turn every individual into a revenue generator?), we can first start by expanding the definition of what it means to impact revenue in a Future of Work landscape.

Sure, obvious answers likely pop up. For example, roles that directly contribute to pipeline expansion, client retention, high Net Promoter Score, renewals and upsells, diminished org waste, and so on, are clearly revenue impacting. But what if we take the brainstorm further and dream about a future team in which both visible and invisible revenue impact is realized? Envision, for a moment, an individual who’s…

  • Masterful communication style directly reduces the number of reworks and errors
  • Leadership techniques increase the rate of innovation acceleration within a team
  • Multipotentialite capability enables them to frictionlessly fill gaps within teams
  • Connection to other team members directly supports retention and drives morale
  • Ability to break down complex subject matter expedites sales cycles

By reflecting on the above, the notion of what it means to positively impact revenue expands considerably. With the vision clearer, now we can apply the how.

Instead of focusing on what’s long been easy to measure (tried-and-true rev-gen KPIs), advances in data innovation can enable us to measure what’s long felt immeasurable. In short, companies can “invent” KPIs that make sense for their unique organization, goals, and cultural considerations. KPIs that suddenly allow a team to measure things like invisible impact, impact on teammates, promotability potential… and that’s just scratching the surface!

Dive in to how we help measure the immeasurable by clicking here!



Wow Experiences

Consider for a moment the experiences you want to curate for your audiences — employees, prospective customers, end users, partners, existing clients, etc. Now consider, “What would it look like to create game-changing experiences for them?”

Allow your mind to wander and adventure when thinking about things like the

  • Journey they will go on — from first introduction to next level interactions
  • Adjectives, and descriptors they’ll use when describing your experience to others
  • Defining moments, throughout the journey, that turn them into stark raving fans
  • Futures-oriented things you’re dreaming of that seem impossible today

Do you see the vision? The vision of what you want to build if you were free of constraints?


Once you see the dream, data innovation can be the fuel to create game-changing experiences for key constituents. AI/ML can create personalized, customized, and targeted experiences. Predictive intelligence can help companies read minds and anticipate what stakeholders will think, feel and expect — without having to ask. Illuminating dark data insight can unearth risks and threats (as well as hidden ROI opportunities) when it comes to shaping experience.

It’s a far different approach than starting with the how… or, for example, stating that you want to use AI to boost the customer journey before you’ve even had time to land on feeling you want customers to walk away with when experiencing your brand.


“Stay” Variables

The factors that most impact whether employees or customers stay change within your organization regularly and expediently. While some years it might be about things like unlimited PTO, rapid product releases, seamless feedback channels, the next day it shifts to things such as leadership team, price/salary competitiveness, and alignment to values and mission. If we embrace the notion of dream first (then the how), leaders and companies can focus first on envisioning a future environment in which “staying” is the norm. Considering things like…

  • Who makes up the employee and customer populations in the future?
  • What characteristics and motivators do they have in common? In what ways are they different?
  • What reasons do they give for staying? What themes can be spotted among their answers?
  • What warning signs do they give well before a quit or churn?

With the vision seen, companies can then use data correlations and storytelling to figure out the variables and factors that have the greatest likelihood of affecting “stay” conditions. For example, for one company the factors that might have the biggest impact on employee retention are career pathway diversification, alignment to mission, and cross-functional collaboration; whereas at another firm it’s technology centricity, options to lead and learn, and transparency of information.

The vision is in being able to see the variables that most affect stay. That way the how can be aimed against what really matters.


The period of data innovation is here. A time in which we can leverage the data we already have, while also committing to a culture of new data acquisition based on the visions we see in our period of dreaming. The how is always possible but, if we put it first, we often fail to see the real problems and opportunities for which we’re trying to solve.


Ready to dream and then apply data innovation to your vision? Click here to schedule time with our Data Innovation team to see what’s possible with data.