This is a letter to you from Mike West, founder of PeopleAnalyst —> Details to right.
Hi, welcome to PeopleAnalyst!
Since you are reading this I am going to assume you are someone who is interested in people analytics, or at least is curious about what that is. (or you might be a web crawler. I am not sure yet.)
There are many possible reasons people need or want people analytics at their organizations. Here are a few examples. When you are bleeding away your best talent to competition, you need data informed insight. When you go in front of others to propose any important change, you need data informed insight. When you have to cut costs from a multi-million dollar employee benefits portfolio that is growing faster than revenue without destroying the employee value proposition, you need data informed insight. When you need to show a manager that they need to get better at being a manager, you need data informed insight.
DATA HELPS YOU SEE THE WORLD A DIFFERENT WAY AND CREATE THINGS NOBODY THOUGHT POSSIBLE BEFORE.
Data helps you see reality better. Data helps you make better decisions. Data helps you be better at what they do. Data helps you see the world a different way to create things nobody thought possible before. Ultimately, you will be held accountable for what happens with or without data, but data can help you do what you do better. Data can make otherwise mundane tasks enthralling. Managing people is no different.
People analytics is a new field that proposes methods for how organizations can manage people better with data, ultimately be better at what you do by fine tuning how they attract, activate and manage the exit of people in pursuit of the unique objectives of your organization or company.
So, what is so new and special about People Analytics?
People Analytics is the intersection between people strategy, science, systems and statistics. All four are important to describe this new field. If you take any one those S’s away you get something different. Not unimportant; just different. For example there have been organization behavior (science) studies for over 100 years, which is important, however people analytics is the dynamic application and revisal of this science in context of a unique business context, business strategy and people strategy. There is an important difference.
I am proud to say my purpose and passion is people analytics, and if for a time only a few leading edge companies understand and want what I do, I will keep going. Why? It was a problem given to me to solve and somebody has to do it. We have one life, I’d rather do that than spend my days to make the perfect pencil. No offense if that is what you do.
I draw inspiration from the odd balls that aspire to do something different and difficult and stick with it to achieve something great, whatever that is for them.
My background is odd, as our the people I have worked with and for. My previous employers and clients have been successful innovative companies and leading employers at the same time (Hallmark Cards, Merck, PetSmart, Google, Children’s Health, ...) Through their willingness to venture into the unknown they have demonstrated to the world what is possible when you bring together people and data. I appreciate their investment in me on my journey, and I simply continue on to add to the opus of work that I am blessed and proud to have been part of.
Together we have pursued ambitious goals:
demonstrate how data can change human resource management for the better,
inspire companies to change for the better,
and change how people think about managing people.
And the best part? It works. It really does!
There is more opportunity in people analytics than anyone realizes. The work of people analytics is nowhere near finished- it has only begun. There are more applications of people analytics waiting to be discovered than currently in existence, while those in existence could also be improved and applied in many new contexts. To have opportunity to participate in the development of new field is something that rarely happens - you are lucky if this opportunity presents itself to you once in a lifetime. It is presenting itself to you right now!
Here is how I learned people analytics and what I suggest for you too.
Step 1 - Learn by Doing (except you have more support than I did)
PeopleAnalyst’s purpose is to get people who are interested in implementing people analytics on the right path with good frameworks, roadmaps, process and technology - rooted in unique experience building people analytics from scratch across multiple industries, company sizes and budgets.
Anyone can build a house by themselves. But you might not want to live in it! While there are many common elements, great structures have been built to a specific people and a specific purpose. For this it is helpful to have an architect.
I don’t sell conventional consulting or technology solutions. For various reasons I think it is important that you and the people you work with participate in and “own” people analytics at your company. I provide assessment, design, instruction, mentoring and I will get into it with you and build measurements, analysis and reports together, but my goal isn’t to do it all for you or stay forever. If you need this I can match you with people (either contract or employee) with a reputation of doing good work in the space. I have a very broad and deep network in people analytics and a lot of people in my field want to work for the companies I work with because of the strong signal that sends them.
I enjoy cooking up my own people analytics surprises, but I also happily share my recipes. You will find them all over this website, my book People Analytics For Dummies and my miscellaneous linkedin articles. I do this because it is the careful selection, synthesis and delivery of new data insights that makes what I do special and what will make what you do special too. Just as a painting is more than paint, a cathedral is more than bricks, and a good meal is more than just ingredients thrown together, careful synthesis always creates better results.
I am an introvert by nature, but I speak at conferences, I do workshops, and I talk to other people about the problems they are trying to solve with data. All in effort to communicate what I have experienced and seen, and for the opportunity to help create better companies, better places to work, and a better world.
Some people learn by reading. Others by listening. Others learn with their hands. I think they are all useful and important. I try to help out as much as I can with all three.
I spent a year of my life writing People Analytics For Dummies and I have packed it with my own innovations and advantages (The Four-S Framework, The Triple-A Framework, Net Activated Value (NAV), CAMS Index, . . .) I give away a lifetime of hard earned learning - really everything that I have in this world - for almost nothing on the premise that your results do not detract from my results. In fact, if you are doing people analytics, your results and mine are inextricably intertwined. The book on people analytics is not perfect, or complete, but it is a start.
Upfront Planning makes a difference. To get where you want to go - where you start is as important as where you are going. Where you start helps determine how soon you can get to your destination and what kind of effort is required. Wherever you are starting from as a company, myself and partners can work with you and your data to take people analytics to its next level. You don’t need any specific set of systems to start - you just need to start where you are. It is better starting from scratch!
Step 2 - Collect the Right Data, Not All Data
The next great technology solution to this and that people problem will crawl into the world in an infinite variety of shapes and descriptions, but none of these will amount to much if you don’t know where you are going and have the right plan to get there. I love the future as much as they and you do - that is why I offer to help you:
decide and align other people around the most important problem to solve,
design, develop and communicate new tools and data sources to see this problem differently,
help you combine all these new analytical tools, data sources and efforts into something useful efficiently as possible.
The path to get there is winding and difficult to absorb in abstract, but when it's done right you can really tell the result!
I know that no company, no person, no HR system, and no dataset is perfect. Nor am I! I also know that no technology or analysis will show you the right answers built on wrong data. Instead of sweeping the data collection, transformation and cleanup under the rug I show you how to address these realities head on.
Step 3 - Design an Architecture For Ongoing Systematic Insight
Arbitrarily collected data, stored in arbitrary ways and visualized on arbitrarily designed dashboards will not produce useful insight. Good frameworks, architecture and design are essential. Furthermore, even if the analysis or algorithm you have created works one time - beware the ravages of change. The shape of your organization, the relationships between people, what is important, your competition and what you need to know will change over time. Designing a technology architecture to reliably produce useful insight and business value over time requires different thought than designing something to work one time. The overall design must precede perceived needs. It requires understanding a business model and context, designing great research frameworks, designing great research processes, designing great data collection instruments, and designing a technical people analytics operating environment that includes a spectrum of technologies necessary to address a spectrum of different data problems. It has to be modular. It has to adapt to new information. The pieces have to talk to and work with each other. It has to scale as demands will increase and change over time. Faster than you think.
Some companies sell you on a single system, tell you it will do everything you need and leave it to you to figure out what you do with it as you go. That is convenient for them, but after many years in your shoes I respectfully disagree with them, for you. I help you (and ultimately them too) solve the problems that you are going to run into on your journey. Preparation, design, fit, sequencing, support and validation are key to successful people analytics application architecture design and application deployment.
My experience is this:
while people analytics requires some investment in technology, great results is never a result of technology alone and there is no single application that performs all the necessary functions of people analytics well,
there is no worse waste of time, money and credibility for you than a project that costs a lot and totally misses user needs,
and there are some basic questions we can work through together in workshops and with inexpensive technology before you buy expensive technology to ensure that your investment in people analytics will have optimum impact on the goals you want to achieve.
Nothing of lasting significance has ever been accomplished without a team. The best of humanity exists in between individuals with interlocking of interests. This letter is an open invitation to a discussion with folks interested in applying people analytics at their companies and folks interested in building and communicating people analytics applications.
I gain inspiration from you! Thank you for coming by and reading my thoughts here.
I’d love to spend 15 minutes together to hear about you and what you are doing or to answer any questions you have about what I am up to these days. Let me know how I can be of use to you.
Be well, Mike West
Mike was a pioneer of people analytics at Merck, PetSmart, Google, Children’s Health Dallas, Jawbone, and Pure Storage. Mike has made other data informed human resource management contributions at Atlassian, Udemy, Otsuka, AstraZeneca, University of Minnesota Clerical Labor Union & Hallmark.
Mike was one of a few early analyst hires on Google’s world-renowned People Operations team credited with using data to reinvent HR and turn Google into the talent magnet that it is today. Mike’s contributions at Google included many firsts for people analytics at Google. Since that time Google has built an unparalleled people analytics team and capability using this to both create sustained business growth and win the #1 spot on the Global Fortune Best Company to Work For list an unprecedented eight times. No other company in history has won the overall award more than two times.
Seeing how important people analytics is Mike left Google and has made it his life mission to share people analytics with the rest of the world.
*Mike’s firsts at Google included work on Google's first HR data reporting architecture, Google's first employee survey (Happiness and later Googlegeist), Google's first benefits analytics, Google's first employee on-boarding analytics and Google's first employee attrition analytics, which included Google’s first employee exit prediction model.
More detail is available at Mike’s LinkedIn profile. References available upon request.
➤ MIKE WEST
Email Mike: email@example.com
Text Mike: 1-(469)-406-4699 (I don’t pick up unexpected calls, so please send me a text or schedule.)
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