Mohan Routray, HR head of mid size IT firm, was irritated. Excel sheets frustrated him. He had to send analysis of various HR parameters to CFO. Every time he used to click send button, he used to have feeling that something must have gone wrong in analysis.
His assistant Gyani Mhais was not any better when it came to excel sheets. He always committed some errors, and it was Mohan’s job to recheck all formulas before sending sheet to CFO. HR analytics was new to both and they just hated it.
Mohan got call from CEO, who wanted to discuss latest findings of Employee Satisfaction Survey. Darius Mistry had impressive personality, 6 feet 3 inches tall, with baritone voice. Mohan started explaining the ratings on various parameters. Darius stopped him and asked him to forget the numbers and tell him what his gut feeling was. Mohan was fumbling for answers.
Darius looked at him with his steely eyes and said “Let me explain. Numerical analysis is not everything. At times you miss forest for trees.”
“Years ago I used to work with Venugopal Dhoot, owner of Videocon, he once asked a marketing agency to do survey on size of market for washing machines in India. The agency conducted survey and did detailed analysis, based on which they said that market was insignificant. Venugopal looked at report and asked the survey team to meet him at international airport at 11.45 P.M. No explanation was given.”
“The team reach airport at given time, flight from gulf had recently landed, the passengers were coming out of airport with imported consumer goods (those were pre-liberalization days) esp. washing machines. Venugopal then asked them to keep visiting airport at that time for next 15 days. They noted that numbers of Indians bringing washing machines to India from gulf was significant , thus there was sufficient market for washing machines. Gut feeling makes difference.”
“Mohan,numbers are not everything nor do employee surveys tell whole story, in case of humans, gut feeling, informal communications etc. are equally important. In fact your HR initiatives will come from informal channels of communication rather than ESS”.