Strategic Analytics: Advancing Strategy Execution and Organizational Effectiveness

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More than ever, data drives decisions in organizations—and we have more data, and more ways to analyze it, than ever. Yet strategic initiatives continue to fail as often as they did when computers ran on punch cards. Economist and research scientist Alec Levenson says we need a new approach.

The problem, Levenson says, is that the business people who devise the strategies and the human resources people who get employees to implement them use completely different analytics. Business analytics can determine if operational priorities aren’t being achieved but can’t explain why. HR analytics reveal potentially helpful policy and process improvements but can’t identify which would have the greatest strategic impact.

This book shows how to use an integrated approach to bring these two pieces together. Levenson presents a thorough and realistic treatment of the reasons for and challenges of taking an integrated approach. He provides details on the different parts of both enterprise and human capital analytics that have to be conducted for integration to be successful and includes specific questions to ask, along with examples of applying integrated analytics to address particular organizational challenges.

Effective analytics is a team sport. Levenson’s approach allows you to get the deepest insights by bringing people together from both the business and HR perspectives to assess what’s going on and determine the right solution.


About the Author

Dr. Levenson is Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Effective Organizations in the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California. His action research and consulting with companies optimize job and organization performance and HR systems through the application of organization design, job design, human capital analytics, and strategic talent management.

Alec’s work with companies combines the best elements of scientific research and practical, actionable knowledge that companies can use to improve performance. He draws from the disciplines of economics, strategy, organization behavior, and industrial-organizational psychology to tackle complex talent and organizational challenges that defy easy solutions. His recommendations focus on the actions that organizations should take to make lasting improvements in critical areas.

Alec has spent over a decade and a half training human resource professionals and teams in the application of human capital analytics across a broad range of Fortune 500 and Global 500 companies.

His research has been published in numerous academic and business publications and featured in major media outlets including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, CNN, Associated Press, CBS, U.S. News and World Report, National Public Radio, USA Today, Marketplace, and Fox News. He received his PhD and MA in Economics from Princeton University and his BA in Economics and Chinese language (double major) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Table of Contents

Part I: Why Do Strategic Analytics
Chapter 1: Of elephants and incomplete analysis
Chapter 2: Beware the ROI bogeyman and other monsters lurking under the bed
Chapter 3: Put the horse in front of the cart – where to focus the analysis

Part II: How to do Strategic Analytics
Chapter 4: Step #1 – Competitive advantage analytics
Chapter 5: Step #2 – Enterprise analytics
Chapter 6: Step #3 – Human capital analytics
Chapter 7: Putting it all together
Chapter 8: Application – Customer retention and profitable growth
Chapter 9: Application – Go to market strategies and effectiveness

Part III: Diving Deeper: How to Make Current Practice Better
Chapter 10: Critical roles, competencies and performance
Chapter 11: Making sense of sensing data
Chapter 12: Evaluating human capital development – build versus buy versus redesign

Conclusion: Key learning and action points
Appendix: Strategic Analytics diagnostic interview template



“Strategic Analytics addresses one of the key complaints about HR today—that the function is not aligned with driving the business strategy. Levenson gives a step-by-step approach for leveraging analytics to identify the right levers to drive business strategy and organizational effectiveness. The book is both comprehensive and pragmatic, with thoughtful examples to help HR and business leaders alike apply the framework and tools.”
—Tracy Faber, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, McKesson

“A real breakthrough. Strategic Analytics is a must-read for line and human resource executives who strive to make their organization and human resource system a source of strategic advantage. The systemic framework for rigorous diagnosis of organization alignment problems will help executives avoid simple but wrong responses that undermine effective strategy execution.”
—Michael Beer, Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School, and cofounder of TruePoint

“Levenson offers a highly useful framework for sharpening the focus of data analytics within large, complex organizations. This book cuts through much of the hype surrounding the topic with a pragmatic review of methods that will generate actionable insights within an enterprise. Strategic Analytics should redirect efforts commonly seen today that often generate large quantities of data without really impacting business results.”
—Alan May, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

“Do you ever feel like you have all the data in the world but still don’t know how to use it or you’re not sure which analytics to use? So many practitioners don’t solve their organizational issues because analytics without strategy are useless, or their strategies aren’t aligned organizationally so the analytics don’t matter. In this essential book, Levenson provides meaningful, actionable insights for business leaders and HR practitioners to align strategies and priorities to improve organizational effectiveness and drive bottom-line results.”
—Kim Warmbier, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Dean Foods

“Strategic Analytics is the book we have been waiting for. Levenson provides a road map to analyze performance gaps in strategy execution and the causal linkage with how the organization is designed and managed. He shows the role high-performance work design plays in strategy execution, which is the key design area in the new digital modern organization. This book puts all the pieces together to provide a clear analytic approach to improve organizational effectiveness.”
—Stu Winby, CEO, SPRING Network

“Getting people and practices aligned to achieve strategy is one of the biggest stumbling blocks in modern management, often made worse by conflicting messages coming from workplace metrics and overall business metrics. Strategic Analytics offers practical advice on how to straighten out those different measures. New and much-needed guidance for getting strategy execution right. “
—Peter Cappelli, Director, Center for Human Resources, Wharton School of Business

“Strategic Analytics is a great road map for the journey from big data and big confusion to focused and practical sense—making sense through better business insights. Levenson provides a user-friendly approach for what to analyze, why to analyze it, and how to make more powerful business decisions as a result.”
—Ian Ziskin, President, EXec EXcel Group LLC, and former Chief Human Resources Officer, Northrop Grumman

“Levenson nails the essence of successful analytics work with the statement that ‘effective analytics is a team sport.’ Up to now, analysis in organizations has been a suboptimized, multiheaded monster with each head eating alone. Strategic Analytics shows how to effectively use a holistic integrated approach.”
—Jac Fitz-enz, CEO Human Capital Source

NameStrategic Analytics: Advancing Strategy Execution and Organizational Effectiveness
AuthorAlec Levenson
Published Year2015
Page Count256
PublisherBerrett-Koehler Publishers