Friday, 3 July 2015

#seAnalytics - Levels of Planning, Measurement and Analysis

Yesterday was Symposium Events' Mission Critical HR Analytics conference.  There were a couple of consistent themes I will blog on into next week, however the main (and very positive) one was the use of three level triangles!

Peter Reilly from the IES kicked off the event.  His triangle shown at the top left here was about moving from data to analytics.  He described how the triangle builds up with each layer building on the layer below, ie that you need good quality data before you can do reporting before you can do analytics (well yes, partly, but actually you can do a lot with shoddy data and technology - see my post on roadmaps next week.)

Paul Smith from LV= had his own version, dealing again with the analytics agenda at the top of Peter's triangle, but shown the wrong way up (so I've rotated the photo so you get to see it the way it's supposed to go!)  In case you can't read upside down, this triangle moves from operational to tactical to strategic.

They're both interesting models, that both relate to my Value Triangle, but the key issue which both Peter and Paul's models miss is that it's not analytics we need to worry about, it's not even the data we analyse, but the insight we're trying to provide.

In fact quite a few of the speakers sort of referred to this, suggesting it's not the data or analytics which are important but the question you're trying to answer.  Also see Peter's blog post for the conference:

"It is important to note that HR analytics reverses the approach that characterises so much HR work of producing data then trying to find a problem to solve; instead, you start with the problem and look for the data to answer the question."

Yes, exactly (though not all of the time), so let's put the question in the triangle!

This is what the Value Triangle does which I used in my own presentation and you can out more about here.

Anyway, just before me, Jo Taylor spoke about TalkTalk's approach which used the categories of value for money, adding value and creating value to identify the type of talent the company was trying to develop.  Not actually a triangle but clearly the categories from the Value Triangle!

It turns out that TalkTalk's consultant was previously a partner in another consultancy working with a guy who used to work with me and where we first developed this model.  I think that TalkTalk's version has been corrupted slightly since then though as Jo suggested the idea of Future Back(starting with the end state in mind) requires thinking about the business whereas Creating Value is actually a very people centric perspective ie it looks at what people will be generating for the business, rather than what the business needs its people to do.  But that's a relatively minor quibble in this context.  In general, what better introduction could I possibly have got?

This is the value triangle from my own session (thanks Jo) which I also linked to one of Gary Hamel's models to illustrate the approach I recommend in the context of generating employee engagement.

I'll explain what I discussed regarding engagement in my next post, but the point I'd like to make now is to explain that it's not the level of data or analytic we need to worry about, it's the nature of the thing we're trying to measure.

So if we're tying to measure the sorts of things that will give us value for money at the bottom of the triangle - eg compliance, diligence and obedience, we'll probably be able to get lots of objective, reliable data, and can use appropriate analytical tools to explore these.  Eg this is where big data fits in.

In contrast, in we're dealing with Creating Value at the top of the triangle - eg passion and pride, creativity and zeal, we're more likely to need qualitative measures, and richer types of analytics and tools that help us understand these things.

Nick Kemsley from Henley talked a bit about this in his session on workforce planning, suggesting that if we want to create organisational capability (which is a great example of creating value), we can't look at WFP in a transactional way.  We need to deal with the ambiguity which will exist at this level and be prepared to make subjective judgments about it.  But actually this applies to anything we deal with, across the full range of HR and OD activities, which support creating value.

It's something we still forget far too much (or perhaps sometimes don't realise to begin with.)  Yes, we will generally want to start with the question we're trying to answer.  And the nature of that question will influence the nature of the data we need to collect.  And this will impact the nature of the analytics we need to perform.  And as you'll see in my next post, this also influences the nature of the technology which can help us performance the analytics, visualise the insight and answer the question!

And all from using the right triangle!

By the way, the triangle also explains why I've been slightly hedging my comments about starting out with a question. For adding and creating value that's absolutely the right thing to do.  But for value for money, you may be able to access big data.  And that gives you the ability to probe the data and see what answers it will give you (even if you don't know the question!)

If you want to know more, the above slide from my presentations highlights one of the training courses I run for Symposium - on planning, measurement and analysis, where I cover all of the ideas I outline above, and a lot more!

I can run it in-house as well if you'd be interested!

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


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