Analytics Blogger: Journalist or Personal Diary?

There are several bloggers like me who write about analytics, enterprise risk, and performance management (ERM/EPM). What are our writing styles?

Some do a deep dive into the details of equations and algorithms of analytics or of the various methodologies like strategic balanced scorecards and customer profitability analysis. Some write about current news such as happenings with Facebook, Apple, or other companies. Some write help/advice articles with tips on how to be more effective and successful applying these techniques.

What is my writing style?
I have been blogging weekly for over five years. I also write monthly columns for (now eight years), SmartData,, the Institute of International, and Business These pieces are regularly reposted at, KPI, and EPM When I contemplate my writings, I cannot determine if I write like a journalist or as if I am sharing with readers my personal diary. What is the difference?

A journalist writes as a news reporter. Think Lois Lane, Clark Kent, or Tom Friedman. In contrast, a diary comprises personal thoughts, feelings, and perspectives, and it is intended for limited circulation amongst friends and relatives.

I sense that my writing style is a hybrid, what I call a diary-ist. Sometimes my blogs and articles refer to books authored on various topics, and sometimes they are a personal reflection of my thoughts. I prefer the latter -- writing essays like a diary.

Write for your target readers and followers
I have been very fortunate to have a 40+ year career implementing and observing applications of analytics and performance improvement methods and systems. My earlier writings were educational. Examples included explaining how to construct a balanced scorecard with key performance indicators (KPIs), how to design a managerial accounting system to measure customer profitability and value, and how to reform a broken budgeting process with predictive analytics.

My later writings have been more motivational, with attempts to be inspirational. I write for followers who are struggling to get buy-in and overcoming the human nature resistance to change. I try to inject humor. My motive is to accelerate the adoption rate of analytics, ERM, and EPM, which are now proven. Technology is no longer the barrier. People's behavior and an organization's culture are the obstacles.

A close friend mentioned to me that I write like Mark Twain and Will Rogers. I write for the common worker. Examples are my pieces, "We're Down Here," "Geeks are Chic," and "More Spocky, Less Rocky."

My article, "True Confessions – My Struggle with Two Loves," sums up my current writing style. I write as a diary that I choose to share with friends. I write for the advancement of understanding and the adoption rate of methods to provide employees, managers, and executives with better information to gain insights and foresights for better decisions. I write to help others with organizational transformation. I love my work, and it has loved me back.

Gary Cokins, Principal, Global Business Advisors, SAS

Gary Cokins is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, and author in advanced cost management and performance improvement systems. He is the founder of Analytics-Based Performance Management, an advisory firm located in Cary, North Carolina. Gary received a BS degree with honors in Industrial Engineering/Operations Research from CornellUniversity in 1971. He received his MBA from NorthwesternUniversity's Kellogg School of Management in 1974.


Gary began his career as a strategic planner with FMC's Link-Belt Division and then served as Financial Controller and Operations Manager. In 1981 Gary began his management consulting career first with Deloitte Consulting. Then KPMG (1988), where he was trained on ABC by Harvard Business School Professors Robert S. Kaplan and Robin Cooper, and in 1992 Gary headed the National Cost Management Consulting Services for Electronic Data Systems (EDS) now part of HP. From 1997 until recently Gary was in business development with SAS, a leading provider of enterprise performance management and business analytics and intelligence software. 


Mr. Cokins can be reached at . His past SAS blogs are at .

Analytics Blogger: Journalist or Personal Diary?

I cannot determine if I write like a journalist or as if I am sharing with readers my personal diary. What is the difference?

Analytics & Big-Data: Press 'Pause' on the Stairmaster

Technology is no longer the impediment to driving corporate improvement - culture and leadership style are.

Re: A new type of writer....
  • 7/31/2012 10:53:53 PM

It's hard to categorize a writer as having one distinct or particular style. We, or at least I will vary my approach based on the subject matter and audience that I am trying to reach. There is no greater reward than making a successful connection with others with your writing. That is the only relevant measure.  

Re: A new type of writer....
  • 7/31/2012 7:22:21 PM

Bloggers give us a sneak peak at their humanity--who they are, and we all love the "realness" we feel from reading their thoughts.

Beyond the blog
  • 7/31/2012 6:26:35 PM

Hi Gary: I have followed your writings close to an year now and I truly admire the way to carry the content to your target readers. It is precise and drives the point home. Knowing of your experience in blog and technical writing, Which of the two styles, Diary or Journalist,  do you think will make more impact on the reader?  I am sure you might have received equal positive critique and feedback for both but I feel different target audiences like different tones. Please throw some light on this!

A new type of writer....
  • 7/31/2012 2:00:31 PM

I think you are hitting upon the evolution of writing; blogging has evolved into a whole new style of writing somewhere between that reporter and the diary that provides information, entertains and still enables readers to  engage with the writer and their opinion. I too love my work and it loves me through all the great comments from peers and readers! Write on!!!