The best HR & People Analytics articles of May 2018

The best HR & People Analytics articles of May 2018

May’s collection features a Diversity and Inclusion special, plus several ONA themed articles and the latest research from the likes of HR Open Source, Insight222 and McKinsey. Featured authors include Patrick Coolen, Dawn Klinghoffer, Luk Smeyers and Unilever CHRO Leena Nair.

The revolution will be televised: six takeaways from UNLEASH America

The revolution will be televised: six takeaways from UNLEASH America

David spoke at the second UNLEASH America show in Las Vegas in May 2018 as well as moderating the Smart Data breakout. Here are his key takeaways from the show featuring his thoughts on keynotes from the likes of Rachel Botsman, Josh Bersin and Gary Hamel. The revolution will be televised…

The role of Organisational Network Analysis in People Analytics

One of the most exciting trends in people analytics is the rapid growth of Organisational Network Analysis (ONA), which whilst not new is witnessing a resurgence thanks to developments in technology, new ways of working and changing business requirements.

When I meet with people analytics leaders, ONA regularly crops up in the conversation as one of the techniques that they have either already begun to use or plan to deploy within their organisations.

Indeed, research conducted by Insight222 towards the end of 2017 (see Figure 1 below) found that ONA was the analytical technique that people analytics leaders most wanted to learn more about.  

Figure 1:    Organisational Network Analysis is the technique that HR & People Analytics leaders most want to learn more about (Source: Insight222)

Figure 1: Organisational Network Analysis is the technique that HR & People Analytics leaders most want to learn more about (Source: Insight222)

The role of ONA in people analytics was the topic of my presentation at UNLEASH in Las Vegas on 15 May. The slides I used during my speech are included here. The purpose of this article is to answer the following questions I regularly get asked about ONA:

  • What is ONA?
  • Why is ONA growing in importance?
  • What is ‘Active’ and ‘Passive’ ONA? Which one should we use? Can we use both?
  • What can we use ONA for?
  • What case studies on ONA are available?
  • Where can I find out more about ONA?


If you Google ‘Organisational Network Analysis’, you will uncover a lot of dry and technical descriptions of what ONA is, which are mostly a variation of “Organisational Network Analysis is a structured way to visualise how communications, information and decisions flow through an organisation” (which came from Deloitte).

I prefer Michael Arena’s description in his excellent recent podcast with Al Adamsen, where the Chief Talent Officer of GM defined ONA as providing “a new lens to evaluate how people show up in an organisation.

"ONA provides a new lens to evaluate how people show up  in an organisation"

Similarly, in his article ‘What is ONA?’, Professor Rob Cross, arguably the world’s foremost expert on the subject, explains that “ONA can provide an x-ray into the inner workings of an organisation — a powerful means of making invisible patterns of information flow and collaboration in strategically important groups visible”. In the same article, Cross provides a perfect example to illustrate this viewpoint and how ONA enables you to see what is going on in a company.

Figure 2    - An example of the insights offered through ONA (Source: Rob Cross)

Figure 2 - An example of the insights offered through ONA (Source: Rob Cross)

The example in Figure 2 is of an ONA project undertaken by Cross with the exploration and production division of a large petroleum organisation. It identifies mid-level managers critical to information flow such as Mitchell, who is the only point of contact between members of the production division and the rest of the network. It also highlights that the Senior Vice President Mares is peripheral to the network and is essentially an untapped and under-utilised resource, whilst the Production team is isolated and separated from the network. None of this is visible from the rickety old org chart.

Head over to LinkedIn to read the remainder of: The role of Organisational Network Analysis in People Analytics

People Analytics in Asia Pacific: Why is it different?

This is a co-authored article with Arun Sundar of TrustSphere.

The recent 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report from Deloitte highlighted the rising importance of people data and analytics to organisations in Asia Pacific. Figure 1 below highlights the top 10 trends in the APAC region, with People Data ranking as the fourth most important trend (it ranked second globally). The study shows that 89% of respondents (the global figure was 85%) believe that people data is important or very important, but that only 38% (42% globally) believe that their organisations are ready or very ready in this category.

Figure 1: The top 10 trends in the Asia Pacific region highlighted in Deloitte's 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report by importance and readiness (Source: Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends, 2018)

Figure 1: The top 10 trends in the Asia Pacific region highlighted in Deloitte's 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report by importance and readiness (Source: Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends, 2018)


From speaking to people in the HR Analytics community in Asia Pacific, it is clear that the challenges around building and sustaining capability with regards to people analytics are different to those in Europe and North America, and also vary considerably across a region that is home to 65% of the world's population.

This article, which is part of a series focused on people analytics in Asia Pacific that will be published during the course of 2018, explores the main differences. It is equally intended to provide guidance to global organisations with operations in the APAC region as well as Asia Pacific based organisations themselves seeking to capitalise on the many benefits – both to the business and employees – offered by people analytics and a more data-driven approach to HR.


The series of articles is a collaboration with Arun Sundar, Chief Strategy Officer of TrustSphere, who as well as providing an explanation of the differences associated with practicing people analytics in Asia, will also invite comment from other experts in the people analytics community in the region. This article includes contributions from Nick Sutcliffe of The Conference Board, Jayesh Menon, HR Director of Moet Hennessy, Junko Owada of Hitachi and Alexis Saussinan from Merck. Arun and I would like to thank each of you for your invaluable contributions to this article. 

To continue, head over to LinkedIn to read the remainder of People Analytics in Asia: Why is it different?

Three reasons I've joined Insight222 as a board advisor

Truly special opportunities come about maybe once in a lifetime. If you are able to fulfil your passion, work with exceptional people, and contribute to driving real change and progress in your chosen field then you simply must grab such an opportunity with both hands.

This is why I am so thrilled to be invited by Insight222 to become a Non-Executive Director (see announcement by Co-Founder and CEO, Jonathan Ferrar).

Here are three reasons why I took this opportunity:


Insight222’s mission - To put People Analytics, as a discipline, at the centre of Business - aligns directly with my own raison d’être. We simply must make our workplaces more humane. In his new book, ‘Dying for a Paycheck’, Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor of Organizational Behaviour at Stanford University provides a damning indictment on the 21st century workplace. Pfeffer provides evidence on how  modern management practices propagate stress, diminish engagement, destroy the mental and physical health of employees, and ultimately damage company performance. This is why I believe that people analytics is so important as it can shine a light on the harm the practices highlighted by Pfeffer cause and provide actionable insights that drive organisational performance andemployee experience and wellbeing.


The People Analytics Program is the signature offering of Insight222’s strategy to realise its mission. The program combines tools, research, learning, expertise and consulting, and helps clients (namely Heads of People Analytics and CHROs, as well as HR professionals and practitioners) be successful in bringing increased value to their organisations. What makes Insight222 standout, and what makes it so compelling for me, is that the program is being delivered by people (see image below) who have been people analytics and HR leaders themselves. This means not only does Insight222 have a deep understanding of the challenges faced by people analytics leaders but is also able to design, facilitate and deliver solutions that can help leaders learn, create, explore and ultimately make better decisions and be more influential.  Moreover, advising Insight222 will help me in my mission to play a role in developing the wider people analytics and entire global HR community and profession too.


Networking on its own is not enough. It’s one thing to meet up with your peers a few times a year and exchange a few emails. It’s quite another to actually do work with them. This is what makes Insight222 and The People Analytics Program so unique. Since launching in the second half of 2017, Insight222 has already signed up over 25 member organisations in Europe and North America. Together these represent some of the largest companies and most advanced people analytics teams in the world. Insight222 works with them to harness the collective intelligence in the group, identify common challenges and then facilitates the co-creation of initiatives to meet these needs. For example, the current co-creation project is to develop an Ethics Charter to answer the collective premise of “How might HR build trust that People Analytics work will benefit and not harm our employees, and still ensure business value and impact”.


If you are a people analytics leader and want to find out more about The People Analytics Program, explore the Insight222 website, watch the video below featuring Richard Rosenow(Facebook), Geetanjali Gamel (Merck & Co), Steffen Riesenbeck (Bosch), Michelle Deneau(Intuit) and Josh Bersin and/or get in touch with me at


This article was originally published on LinkedIn on 25th April 2018 - see here

The best HR & People Analytics articles of April 2018

April was a momentous month both personally for me and also, I believe for the field of people analytics too.

From a personal perspective, I left IBM to go out on my own, launched my new website and blog (where the next monthly collection of articles will be published - please feel free to subscribe here) as well as gladly accepted board advisor roles with Insight222 (see here) and TrustSphere (here).

I feel fortunate that these exciting personal developments appear to be timed in parallel with real signs that the field of people analytics is maturing and undergoing rapid growth. Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey was published at the beginning of the month and reported that 84 percent of respondents (see Figure 1 below) viewed people analytics as important or very important, making it the second highest ranked trend in terms of importance (a surge from being ranked eighth in 2017).

Deloitte-GHC18_Top10Trends_Importance & Readiness.png

Figure 1The top 10 trends highlighted in Deloitte's 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report by importance and readiness (Source: Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends, 2018)

This sea change in the level of importance attributed to people analytics was also obvious at the People Analytics World conference, I chaired in London in April. As Andrew Marrittwrites in one of the articles below, the focus of the presentations at the conference were centred on the business (and employee) value of people analytics. This shift is a sign that the field is maturing and importantly gaining in confidence as it is only through quantifying business value that the discipline will continue to thrive, gain investment and become a core component not just of HR but of executive decision making.

The progress of the field and its increasing importance to organisations and the future of HR is also reflected in the articles, podcasts and videos I have selected this month, which kicks off deservedly with:


As usual Deloitte’s aforementioned Global Human Capital Trends report is well worth all the hype and anticipation associated with it. The headline finding in the 2018 report is the rapid rise of the social enterprise, which the report defines as reflecting the “growing importance of social capital in shaping an organisation’s purpose, guiding its relationships with stakeholders, and in influencing its ultimate success or failure”. The entire 102 page report is an absorbing read, but the people analytics chapter is particularly fascinating. Titled ‘People data: How far is too far’, the authors describe the rapid growth of the field, the increase in the number and type of data sources being used, and the consequent risk this poses to privacy and data security. The article highlights a potential blind spot (see Figure 2), where whilst organisations are actively managing the risks of using people data around employee perceptions and legal liability, only a quarter are managing the potential impact on their consumer brand. Ethics is arguably the most important part of people analytics and the biggest risk to its progress - the findings in the report only go to reinforce this.

"Organisations are approaching a tipping point around the use of people data, and those that tilt too far could suffer severe employee, customer, and public backlash"
FIGURE 2: When it comes to using people data, organisations are actively managing risks around employee perceptions and legal liability, but only a quarter are managing the potential impact on their consumer brand (Source: Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends)

To read the remaining articles and podcasts in my collection for April, please click on the link here to read it on LinkedIn: The best HR & People Analytics articles of April 2018

New dawn, new day, new life... and I'm feeling good!


Welcome to my new website and blog.

As the article I’ve published today on LinkedIn explains, I’ve left IBM and decided to go out on my own.

It’s exciting, if a little daunting but I’ve always relished a challenge. With no disrespect to IBM, I believe I can make a more considered impact in helping the continued growth of people analytics and the evolution of the HR function unencumbered by the shackles of a large organisation.

This site and blog will provide the fulcrum of my activities henceforth, so please feel free to explore. If you like what you see and would like to receive regular updates on newly published blogs and receive my monthly newsletter, please sign-up here.

For now, I have added a selection of recent articles, so the blog at least has some content that will hopefully provide some stimulation and food for thought.

For those of you who will be at People Analytics World in London this week, which I’ll be chairing for the fourth consecutive year, I’ll see you there.

Thank you for your support to date and I look forward to engaging with you in the future.

David | London | 10th April 2018

The best People Analytics articles of March 2018


The blanket news coverage and general opprobrium following the expose of the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data breach was a good reminder that ethics and data privacy is arguably the most important part of any analytics program – particularly when it comes to HR and employee data.

With perfect (but albeit fortunate) timing, the role of ethics in people analytics was the subject of my presentation at UNLEASH in London little more than three days after the full extent of Cambridge Analytica’s practices were exposed. My article Don’t Forget the ‘H’ in HR, which highlights research and case studies in this area before outlining recommendations for people analytics teams is hopefully a helpful addition to resources about ethics and people data. Certainly, Tracey Smith’s article 5 Ways to Better Protect Your Confidential Data is well worth a read. 


From UNLEASH in London, I flew to the US to attend the Wharton People Analytics Conference where ethics featured prominently in the program perhaps most notably in DJ Patil’s and Charles Duhigg’s fascinating keynote discussion – more on this in the next few weeks.

Turning to this month’s choice of articles…

1. JEFFREY PFEFFER & DYLAN WALSH - “The Workplace Is Killing People and Nobody Cares”

Kicking off this month’s selection is a powerful interview in Stanford Business with Jeffrey Pfeffer about his new book ‘Dying for a Paycheck’, which provides a damning indictment on how the workplace is literally killing people. Not only do modern management practices engender stress, damage engagement and destroy the mental and physical health of employees, Pfeffer also emphasises the massive harm it causes company performance too. This is why the field of people analytics is so important as done well it can shine a light on the damage the practices outlined by Pfeffer cause organisational performance, team dynamics and individual well-being. One can only hope that business leaders around the world read Pfeffer’s book, heed his warnings, say enough is enough and reverse the damage they are causing.

To read the other articles comprising the Top 10 People Analytics articles of March 2018, please read the full blog on LinkedIn.

Don't forget the 'H' in HR


I believe ethics is the most critical ingredient in people analytics. Those working in the field simply cannot afford to get it wrong. The risk to employee trust and to the reputation of the burgeoning discipline of people analytics is too high.

‘Ethics, Trust and People Analytics’ is the title of my presentation, which will open the Smart Data breakout at UNLEASH in London tomorrow. It is also the subject of this article, which as well as including a copy of my slides, also features recent research by the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute and Insight222.


Research in November 2017 from Insight222 found that 81% of HR people analytics leaders and practitioners reported that their people analytics projects were jeopardised by ethical or privacy concerns (Figure 1).


Head over to LinkedIn to read the rest of Don't Forget the 'H' in HR.