Sunday, October 25, 2009

Do we really need more bar charts and pie charts?

The world of HR has evolved to the point where we now have dashboards, surveys, data from sophisticated IT systems on our people, and even linkage research showing how all the data can mix together. We have many many bar charts, pie charts, and line charts. They sometimes are all nicely placed on dashboards, and some even have benchmark data.

But the question I have for anyone reading this is:

What are you doing with all that data?

It seems that we are so happy to finally have HR data, that we may have gotten data greedy at the expense of action and results.

Data alone cannot drive action. Think about how we use financial data, sales data, and production data. We don't send piles of data to people and ask them to act. We review data in discussions, meetings and in sometimes heated confrontations. Data sparks discussions, and it is the data and dialogue that drive action, which ultimately impacts results.

The challenge for HR is not what new data to collect; the critical measure of success is and will be using the right data to drive the right dialogues. The skills associated with that process, however, seem to be new in our field. Therefore, in response to this need for skill building, we are working on a program to certify HR, OD, communications professionals and consultants as Data Coaches. This learning opportunity focuses on helping people in the 'people management' fields learn how to coach managers to use people data to drive action and results. This initiative is being run out of the Center for Effective Organizations at the Marshall School of Business, USC. We are doing custom programs, and our first public program is in March, 2010.

I'd like to get your feedback on what the ideal content would be for this program.

To non-HR leaders reading this blog - what do you think your HR, OD, and other professionals in this field need to be skilled up in to help you better use the right HR data to drive your business goals?

To HR professionals, what do you want to learn? What skill do you think is missing? What would you want to get out of a program that focused on data coaching?

Keep in mind this is not statistics 101, 201 or even 701. Our focus is on using data to tell stories that drive conversation. It's not about what's statistically significant but perhaps what is practically significant.

I look forward to your comments.

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