Billy Connolly once put it in one of his many sketches (Must read in Scottish accent) “Ask a wildbist whether it’s a wildbist? Yes, that’s right, I’m not a wildbist, I’m one of those stripe things out there.” Like many wildbist, for me, human analysis sometimes struggles with an identity crisis.
A common thread that I’ve been following lately is that the focus of human analysis should be on solving business problems. Intelligent, and hard to agree with. But I think if you’re not careful, it mistakenly biases the focus of a human analysis team. What can happen is that it starts to keep your people’s analysis team away from the HR function of which they are a part.
Talk to anyone’s analytics team, leaders or professionals and they will all undoubtedly tell you the value they can add. But there can be frustration with the feeling that they are not in the right room or conversation to add this value. It won’t be said out loud, but with a sigh of relief “if we could work directly with the business”.
I think our interpretation of “business focus on problem solving” is different from many others. In our view, focusing on solving business problems is not a strategy of human analysis, but a reminder to stay relevant. Moving away from navel-vision, research in the interest of research, or looking at interesting projects is just a good encouragement. What the phrase is getting is that your team’s output needs to be functional.
HR is a support function. Its role is to help solve business problems. If HR is more effective, it solves business problems by definition so that should be the focus of the analytical team of the people. Forget business, focus on HR.
To unpack it a bit, help your hiring teams reduce the time to hire, or help a better rent protection business? Can your diversity, inclusion, and equipping relevant teams with their relevant data help their business? Do new ways for HRBP think about inheritance plans help businesses? All of these are certainly rhetorical questions but you will hopefully get points.
The challenge of this approach may be to prioritize, whether it is to focus on the right issues, which brings us back to the “focus on business problem solving” approach. If your HR colleagues are doing an effective job, and you’re asking the right questions as a people analysis team, job priorities naturally occur.
Here at Spotify we are taking it one step further and integrating the capabilities we have created at Disco in a more fundamental way. We firmly believe that the long-term success of human analysis is far more subtle than that of many others. Large, single project that is promoted as the best practice, but it is very intentional. I think human analysis can be considered a success when it is woven so deeply into how an HR function is working that you don’t know it’s there.
We call it internally: a new era of HR insights. Analytical output that integrates deeply into a product suite that both drives key employee experience and improves HR performance.
Importantly though, HR focus.
The output of our People’s Analytics team is now not about analysis but about products that are a part of the analysis.
Disco will provide the foundation block for what will happen first and foremost among these products. It’s an internal product that re-imagines how Spotify (both from business and HR colleagues) can interact with data in their decision-making process. The important aspect of this is that we think of our employees as customers. And what we’ve solved is “How do we create an experience that they want to use and that adds value to their work?”
It might seem like I’m playing with semantics here, or I actually think Billy Connolly’s Wildbust is a zebra. Reality but any kind of analysis is always part of a big puzzle. What I’m proposing is that people can take much more ownership of puzzles than analytics pieces.
To further illustrate this, it may seem subtle, but the use of the term product is very intentional. In developing a product you need to be able to say clearly what a quality offer is. A price offer is a promise to pay a price. This is the primary reason why someone should use your product. In other words, it’s a clear statement that explains how your product solves a “customer” problem or improves their condition, provides a specific benefit and tells your “customer” why they’re using your product instead of why they Should be used (there were too many “” in this sentence, for which I can only apologize)
My point with this is not your analysis product. You need to think about it as part of something bigger that your stakeholders can use over and over again.
Where possible I want to give a real example that makes all of this come alive but the reality is I don’t want to ruin the wonder of what we’re working on. All I can say is that Spotify’s People’s Analytics team will release products focused on improving HR. It’s not that we don’t like the idea of being a zebra, we’re just happy to be a wildbeast.