What does connection mean... to a Data Scientist?

With the official launch of Mystery Insights taking off, we asked some of our very own Mystery leaders for their perspective on connection: What does it mean and how does it feel to them? What value does a tool like Insights provide to someone in their position? Here’s what our Data Science Leader, Shawn Ramirez, had to say:

What does connection mean to you?

A feeling of connection is three things. It’s multi-dimensional (there is no one number that defines it), contextual (define it differently in different contexts), and dynamic (changes over time).

If you feel connected, then you can be your authentic self.

Let’s take a person walking down the street. Do you feel connected to them? Perhaps you’re walking in the same neighborhood, walking to the same store, wearing similar clothing, or you’re both walking a dog. Your shared experience, and your recognized similarities are multiple dimensions that make you feel connected to this other person. They give you a sense of kinship.

But there are many other types of connection. The connection that you have with a co-worker might be defined by achieving shared goals and overcoming obstacles, in addition to your shared experiences and similarities—maybe you both love to bake!

As data scientists, we measure connection in many ways to understand the multidimensionality and multifacetedness of it. We define that fabric of connection differently for different contexts. And then, because connection is dynamic, we look at how behaviors and outcomes change as connection changes. All the while, looking for data signals on outcomes that show people being their best selves.

When do you feel most connected?

I feel the most connected when the group I’m in, and I, are fully engaged and present. We could be doing yoga, at a sports event, watching a movie—or it could be more formal like working on solving a problem or brainstorming with my team. We’re flowing together, energized, exchanging ideas, and interacting in positive ways. I’m connected to the vision, purpose, mission, people, and tasks at hand, and we all feel that flow together.

How do you help companies understand connection?

I think of my job as trying to elevate the understanding of connection at work. As a leader, I care and want my employees to feel connected, but what does that really mean? What does connection achieve, and how would I measure it?

Once we start thinking about connection more deeply, we have to ask hard questions—unpacking how we measure and gain signal on something so subtle. How connected are your employees? This is challenging to answer even if I’m talking about my own company, let alone signals from data. Working at Mystery is forcing me to think hard about what connection does for a company; about the outcomes, the behaviors, and patterns and how to get those signals from data. It’s helping me ask what leads to greater connection, and how I can measure the impact of greater connection—that Mystery’s X caused people to feel Y% more connected, and this led to Z outcomes for our customers. The answers I find help to drive our product, giving companies leverage to help their employees by showing how to diagnose issues, and what levers they can pull to make positive change.

How has working remotely impacted your sense of belonging?

I miss having in-person on-sites, shared informal chats, and water cooler moments. These gave me a sense of community and a level of effectiveness that is hard to achieve virtually. I know that I show up differently when I feel a sense of belonging, so remote work has made me think hard about how I can create that authentic connection for my team.

What’s your favorite way Mystery helps companies increase/improve connections?

My favorite way is through our data visualizations. I love how our results show up in product and help a company make sense of the people in their larger organizations. There’s a lot of room to move further on this, but even having a little bit more insight and interpretability can have a huge impact.

Shawn sees connection like a multiverse—it takes shape and grows in different planes, at different paces, and for different reasons. But there is one thing that stays true across every component: everyone should feel it.