The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology


Cycling Technology: Gears

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There was a time when 10 and 12 speeds were a wonderful thing.  In fact, road bikes were routinely called 10 speed bikes.  Today, I still ride what is called a 10 speed, but it’s actually 20 if you directly compare it with the 10 speeds of the 1980’s.  As metallurgy has advanced, cycling manufacturers have been able to make thinner and thinner cogs to use with these “speeds” basically allowing them to fit more on the rear while every few years.  When I raced in college, 8 speeds (16 total) was the leading edge.  Today, 11 (22 total) is a norm.  Many cyclists actually wonder if more is always better.  What you get is more gears.  This does not mean that your biggest gear is bigger or your smallest gear is smaller.  What it does is gives you more in the middle, and for a cyclist going uphill at a 12% grade, finding the perfect gear is really quite important.

But there are also drawbacks.  In making the cogs smaller, they are more prone to “missed shifts.”  For a cyclist using a mechanical chain (as opposed to cars), this simply means that thin chains with thin cogs sometimes miss their targets, creating a “stall” while you’re riding and a loss of momentum.  Again, for a cyclist riding uphill at 12%, this would be a fairly annoying problem.

Back to the end users:  One of the most frequent service delivery problems that I see these days is the completely disorganized attack of employee data sources.  Well organized data, cataloged, aged, and well written is a great thing.  But so many organizations have multiple data points in multiple data sources.  For the employee searching for information on the employee assistance plan, you want them to be able to enter any number of contact points (call center, generalist, web) and get the exact same response.  In cycling terms, a perfectly executed gear shift.  However, many organizations are sitting around grappling with multiple pieces of data, some of which are 1, 2, and 3 years old, and any employee doing a search might get any one of these up to date or out of date documents.  Any person they call (help desk or generalist) would have the same problem.  This is obviously the missed shift.

More is not always better.  In fact, the phrase “less is more” applies here.  It’s a good thing to have a lot of data available, but the point where you are unable to manage all of that data effectively and present an organized portal to your end user, you’re in trouble.

(ok, these analogies suck, but I want to talk about bikes, ok?)

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