Big Data and the Pursuit of Why

February 26, 2014 by Wally Bock

Big data is the latest all-purpose magic tool to help make business functions, like talent development get better results. Personnel Today just ran a two article series on the subject. Here are links and brief descriptions.

HR data and metrics: overhauling your approach

“Nick Kemsley, co-director at Henley Business School’s Centre for HR Excellence, shows the kind of top-level process he takes organisations through when working with them on their data and metrics approaches, recognising that each may start with a different baseline in terms of what they need or have.”

HR data and metrics: overhauling your approach – part two

“In the second of two articles that provide a blueprint to guide HR functions in overhauling their data approaches, Nick Kelmsley, co-director at the Centre for HR Excellence, Henley Business School, offers an example of how this could be applied to something tangible: talent metrics.”

You’ll get good information from these articles if you’ve already decided to use big data in your talent management program. The problem is that they plant the cart firmly in front of the horse.

Big data is great for answering questions that begin with “I wonder if …” Big data is not so good at coming up with the answer to questions beginning with “I wonder why …”

The why questions are the important ones. Intuition, combined with good analysis, can point you in the direction of why, but it can’t get you all the way there.

To get to the why you need qualitative research. You have to go out and spend time with people, ask good questions, let them talk, and clarify what they tell you.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Talent Management

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