Data Skepticism

Sometimes, organizational leaders are skeptical of data findings, and even flat out questionings their validity. How do you make the argument for good that people analytics can do for these skeptics?

Hi, Vivian. Thanks for your question. Straight to the point: I would immediately join the skeptics and try to understand their concerns and ideas. I, too, as a researcher, am constantly skeptical of the appropriateness of certain data sets, particularly if such data was taken from a transactional system and is now being used for analytical purposes. Sometimes this is ok, and sometimes it’s not. Given this, and this goes to a theme you’ll hear repeatedly from me, is begin with the end in mind. Just want you wanted, huh? I cliche? Actually, in this context, it’s super powerful. In short, many try and “sell” their data and insights without clearly understanding the question they’re trying to solve, or the opportunity they’re trying to realize. To gain this clarity there needs to be meaningful conversations with internal customers about their needs, both what’s needed in terms of the story/insights, as well as what data will support that story effectively. This will then inform what data to gather, create, and/or aggregate. In the end, the internal customers – HRLT, for example – will understand what’s coming before it gets to them. This will inspire confidence and, set the groundwork for a Data Dictionary. What’s a Data Dictionary? Imagine doing this over time and logging all the metrics definitions and their uses and making this available the community of internal customers. Again, this inspires confidence and reduces the time wasted discussing data quality and appropriateness. Hope this helps a bit!