the similarities between ‘adulting’ and data

I have mentioned before that my background is in analytics.  When I say analytics, I mean getting data to tell you a story, looking past what is being reported and really find out what the data is trying to tell you.  Taking a set of numbers on a page and finding the history and potential future behind them.

I had an HR instructor who very boldly tried to teach my Selected Topics class the difference between metrics and analytics and why they were important to HR.  Sad to say, I think I was the only excited about this, sitting in my chair thinking “yes you know what you’re talking about”…  I think the rest of my classmates looked like this:


Hate to say it, but HR people don’t do numbers…I’ve heard that HR is a “soft” skill.  I know many in HR who would argue this, but as soon as you put a set of numbers in front of them or ask them for the data to back up their case… [insert baby face here].

This isn’t just an issue for HR, this is an issue across varying fields, something is lacking…something that I like to call analytics maturity.

Now, there is no real way to define analytics maturity.  Everyone has their own of defining it and attaining it.  There is no real way to say “yes, I’ve made it, I’m analytically mature!”

I like to compare it to being and becoming an adult.

First, there is no one way or one path to becoming to growing up.  No one grows up the same way or at the same time.  We all have different experiences, different backgrounds, different surroundings.  Different things and circumstances happen that impact the directions we take.  The same goes for analytics maturity, there is no one size fits all.  What worked for one person or one organization does not necessarily work for another.  There are so many factors that play a part in how you get to that level of maturity that you need to be at to be successful.  Policies in place, leadership buy-in, cultural acceptance, processes for getting data, access to data that is clean and makes sense, involvement with others who have a say in how the data is used.  The list can go on, but it’s important to know that the path to getting to analytics maturity is unique to you and your organization, and you can drive it and customize it to what works for you.

Second, becoming can be adult is hard.  I’m sure that many of us, when we were younger, were so excited about growing up and couldn’t wait to be an adult.  Now that we are, we wish we could go back to simpler days.  As children, we didn’t have to deal with responsibility, we didn’t have to pay bills, have jobs and every other day-t0-day responsibility that comes with being a grown up.  As children, we didn’t have to think, or plan ahead.  The path to getting to analytics maturity is also hard.  It takes a lot of work, it’s not something that can happen over night.  It takes a lot of time, a lot of patience.  Sometimes, you mess it up and you make mistakes.  But like becoming an adult, you learn from those mistakes and you grow up, you mature and you apply what you’ve learned so you don’t make the same mistakes again.

Lastly, I will say this: analytics maturity is possible, just like growing up.  It is achievable, and when you get it, you will be proud of how far you’ve come, the lessons you’ve learned, and what you have accomplished.  The process of maturity is never over, it is constant, which is what makes it exciting.



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