Nick Richmond, sits on the board of EODF. Here, he reviews the recent EODF London Event on Big Data in organisation design, development and workforce planning. An interesting read containing his own reflections from the event.   

Big Data has been in the news for a couple of years now but in my discussions with the EODF community it’s always seemed to be “out there” when it comes to organisation design. So I was pleased to see Rupert Morrison’s book, “Data-driven Organization Design”, published last year and was excited when I was able to secure both Korn Ferry Hay Group and Concentra to lead sessions at this year’s event on Big Data in organisation design, development and workforce planning. Hosted by the DWP on Tuesday 12th July this was yet another oversubscribed event.

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During the event Korn Ferry Hay Group shared their underlying frameworks, one of their processes for “Big Data” organisation design projects and explored a case study using visualised insights to demonstrate the power and utility of Big Data when combined with organisational effectiveness, benchmarking and organisation design. The second session, led by Concentra, built upon the first session to interactively consider the three organisation design approaches Big Data can support, their foundations and their data driven approach to organisation design. The majority of the session was spent in a highly participative exercise using the orgvue gamified process cards to consider how best to organise a typical HR function.

Reflections from the sessions

Some of our reflections from the event include;

  1. Big Data is a highly valuable lens which most are not using effectively.
  2. It is important to know the question you need answered from the data but Big Data also highlights the questions you didn’t know you want answered.
  3. Be aware of the biases we each bring when crafting the questions which we need answered and when we interpret the data.
  4. The insights from Big Data need to be understood in context e.g. a finance team may be considered oversized for the organisation but context may highlight the need for this capacity to deal with higher numbers of defaulting debtors.
  5. Big Data is at its most powerful when used in a balanced socio-technical approach to organisation design.
  6. As ever building understanding and a common language is critical including what do we mean by “data,” what is “valid data” and what is ethical to use.
  7. Big Data can hugely speed up the process of organisation design but is dependent on accessible, accurate and valid data.
  8. With Big Data being a rear view lens on the organisation, how do we maximise its utility in a fast changing and complex world?

 

On a personal note I felt sufficiently challenged to actively pursue how Tricordant could better use “Big Data” in our organisation design practice. Over the next couple of months, I plan to explore what tools and services are available to support Big Data in organisation design without requiring a significant investment in new skills, tools or cash. I have since learned that, serendipitously, Tricordant have been working with a large client to support their Strategic Resourcing needs. One of the outputs has been to develop a simple, robust but high value people planning tool. This tool is based on a strategic capabilities based approach which I will look to adapt to also support data analysis in either organisation design or people planning processes. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Summarising, I find that I end where I began. For some of us, Big Data may still feel “out there”, but with low investment and easy to use, effective tools what is the cost of not incorporating a data driven approach in our work? Something to reflect on.

If you would like to receive a copy of the EODF session presentations and further insights, or would like to share any thoughts, please contact me at nick@tricordant.com.

 

The European Organisation Design Forum runs 3-6 events in the UK each year based in London and Edinburgh or Glasgow. It also hosts an annual conference which will this year be based in Barcelona on the 14th and 15th October 2016. The topic will be “thinking, feeling, playing, doing design for the 21st Century Organisation”. To learn more about these events, visit the EODF’s website here or contact me on nick@tricordant.com.