So I have to admit it’s hard to come off the election and not write about this. This election was defined by some pretty deep population analysis, incredible forecasting and pretty significant actions to try to address the most important populations. All of this went right along with a prioritization model that was pretty strong. If we look at Obama/Romney, they each had target demographics: Obama needed the youth vote, managed to capture more than his fair share of the female vote (because the GOP was being stupid, and a couple contributions by Romney as well), and he also predictably got the “minority” vote. As the election neared, both candidates narrowed down their activities to a few key states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, etc.) They had incredible models about what percentage of each population’s vote they would get, and if they followed those models, all they had to do was figure out how to get those people to the polls. It turns out that in the end, the Obama machine was far better, and the Romney machine actually broke down (the phone app they were going to use literally went down on election day, and thousands of faithful Romney campaign volunteers had no idea which houses to go to and make sure people actually voted).
At the end of the day, the story is the same as the one we have in HR. It’s about winning. The difference is that we all want to win at different things. Some of us want to win at engaging our employees. Others want to win by having the best IP. More yet want to win by producing the best products in our category in the world. What is great is that if we’re good at what we do, we’re not focused on running analysis about turnover and headcount (although we’ll do that anyway), but instead we’re focused on understanding exactly what 5 things increase engagement in our populations. Taking that a step further, we’d know exactly what populations are the most impactful on the entire workforce and target those people. A 1% increase in engagement in the 30-something sales guys might yield an advantageous network effect while it takes a 3% increase in another population for the same to happen.
Similarly, if I want the best IP, I need to understand the roots of this. Chances are it’s not just the standard talent management equations we need to figure out. I mean, performance and succession are only going to take us so far. Instead, if we’re figuring out the profile of the employees that created the most patent applications, the people who have the highest levels of trust in their subject matter, and specifically what are the attributes that made them successful, then we can start recruiting for those people, aligning our performance reviews not to achievements, but to the competencies we know work, and doing talent reviews that direct us to the right employee profiles rather than who we think is ready from a job perspective.
My assumption is that if you have created your HR strategy in the right way, and you have aligned that strategy with the corporate strategy, then HR is designed to make the organization WIN. Therefore every analytic you are running should be directing your organization to that win. Don’t forget about the mundane operational reports, but understand that focusing on that isn’t really helping you.
At the end of the day, Romney actually did almost everything right, and he really thought he was going to win. The problem that he had was that he made a few wrong assumptions. The GOP really thought that all the pollsters were wrong – that they were over emphasizing the Democratic vote that would turn out on election day – that Democrats, the youth, and Hispanics were really not as excited about Obama as they were 4 years ago. Obama on the other hand had callers identifying who were voters, if they were voting for Obama, and then instructing the voter where their polling place was, good times to go, and what the plan was to get them there. At the end of the day, forget about the other guy. Just go run your analytics, make sure you are focused on what matters, and go out there and WIN!
Note: Please assume no political commentary, simply an example of who analytics can be put into action.