Workforce Surveys

When you look at the flower on the left, what do you see? A nice, yellow flower. Pretty, but that’s about it.

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But when a bee looks at that same flower, however, the image on the right is more or less what it sees (compound eyes and all make it a little hard to show exactly what the bee “sees”). That extra information helps guide the bee to where it can find the nectar (and where the flower’s pollen is). The bee can detect light in ultraviolet wavelengths that we cannot. Our retinas simply do not respond to those (and many, many other) wavelengths.

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We see a lot of color in flowers, but we we’re missing a lot as well. So it is with our workforce. We look at employees through a lens of a competency model or perhaps expanded knowledge, skills, etc. We’ve gone on to build models that outline what roles, jobs, and positions require along those same wavelengths.

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But where we only respond to those attributes that we are looking for leaves us blind to what could really be useful when circumstances change. That unseen information could very well be the key to unlocking new opportunities, competitive advantages, innovation and a variety of other benefits. In today’s rapidly changing business environment, that could come in really handy.

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As Meg Bear points out, we are asking employees to bring their whole selves to work. Isn’t it in our interests that we have our eyes wide open to process the full spectrum of what our workforce has to offer? To do that, we need an extensible, self-describing mechanism to hold this potentially infinite range of attributes.

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Storing and describing attributes in structured data format isn’t too terribly difficult, although we still run the risk of accidentally losing some interesting data in the process.

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What about unstructured data?

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Even if we don’t know how to use it just yet, we can at least store and tag this information with various descriptions that align it with existing structured data. Later on, when we’re ready to analyze the data, we will be prepared to cull valuable information from it.

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The point is: don’t let what you are looking for today make you blind to what your workforce already has to offer that could save you tomorrow.

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Photo copyright by Bjorn Roslett

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Mark Bennett is the Product Strategy Director for Oracle’s next generation Enterprise Collaboration and Profile Management applications, setting the strategic vision and direction of talent collaboration and capability products and their impact on formulation and execution of business strategy. He also founded TalentedApps, which focuses on the industry and future and talent management.

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