Analytics at Work, Smarter Decisions, Better Results.Analytics at Work, Smarter Decisions, Better Results
Authors: Thomas H. Davenport, Jeanne G. Harris, and Robert Morison
Publisher: Harvard Business Press
"The unexamined decision isn't worth making." Thomas H. Davenport, et. al.
What could an HR professional learn from reading this book? That was my question as I read Analytics at Work. The answer is surprising because HR appears only once in the index and refers to only one paragraph in which the authors mention hiring and retention as areas where analytics is being used in HR today.
In their previous book, Competing on Analytics, Davenport and Harris let you in on what leading-edge companies are doing with analytics to create strategic competitive advantage. In Analytics at Work, the authors, along with Robert Morison, take a step back and walk mid-level managers through the value of using analytics to make day-to-day decisions. The book is tool-rich with questionnaires and charts for helping you evaluate your organization on a five-stage continuum from one that is challenged by data collection to one that uses analytics for a competitive advantage. As an organization progresses through each stage, the demand on HR increases for enhanced change management skills, as does HR's impact on financial results.
Despite being passionate advocates for analytics, the discussion is not one-sided. You can begin to understand often-overlooked concepts such as the science and art of decision making, the limitations of analytics, the roles of quantitative and qualitative data, and the boundaries of what's practical. The authors demonstrate the need to monitor models and assumptions so they reflect current changes in the environment. Their approach makes it easy to learn what analytics can do and how we can use data to make better decisions. Also, we learn that not every decision calls for analytics. The authors contend that analytics is an organizational capability for increasing good decisions that lead to higher value results and more accurate predictions of the future.
The DELTA model (data, enterprise, leadership, targets and analysts) provides the framework for organizing content into chapters. You won't want to miss chapter one for an orientation to the language, chapter two for an understanding of data quality, chapter three for what it means to integrate analytics across silos from an enterprise perspective, chapter eight on culture, and chapter eleven on decision making. If you read the entire book, you will spend quality time enmeshed in business language focused on key HR contributions to results without ever reading a chapter on HR.
Analytics at Work, like Davenport and Harris' Competing on Analytics, is well worth your time and attention. Two key areas have value for HR readers: First, the authors present functions generally associated with HR as business issues, such as, company structure, culture and managing analysts. Second, the process of thinking analytically when building a case, making decisions, or evaluating the analytic capability of an organization, is demystified. At minimum, you will learn the language. You will be able to talk to your line managers about how and when to apply analytics and to help them recognize what stage comes next in the development of an analytic culture.
**** A Must Read
** Skim It Over
* Bottom of the Stack
Reviewer: Laura A. Mindek, president, MindShift Solutions