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How People Analytics Can Kill Pointless Meetings
Companies are investing in data-driven solutions that can shine a light on which business practices aren't working while offering solutions for improvement.
Ryan Fuller is CEO and co-founder of VoloMetrix, a company that defines itself as "a people analytics technology company that provides actionable insights to improve organizational responsiveness and drive productivity." That's a fancy way of saying Fuller's company analyzes the ways other companies run and determines what works and what doesn't. It's basically an HR juggernaut able to quantify things like employee satisfaction, efficiency, and overall time value. The entire people analytics movement, as explained in this piece by Forbes contributor Josh Bersin, represents a major shift toward companies finally investing in data-driven solutions to age-old problems related to efficiency.
Enter Ryan Fuller. The VoloMetrix CEO is author of an interesting post published today at Harvard Business Review all about one of the main things people identify with "age-old problems related to efficiency": the soul-sucking vacuum of the useless recurring meeting. Based on information and experience through VoloMetrix, Fuller claims to have a solution for doing away with the sorts of meetings that everyone attends out of habit yet from which nobody seems to benefit. It's not as simple as just abruptly ceasing to meet or, in the case of one of my prior employers, relaunching the useless recurring meeting as a more-useless recurring meeting that only recurs slightly less often. Instead, Fuller says you need a strategy:
"The key is to engage all employees in a new way of thinking about time management and to encourage them to hold themselves and their colleagues accountable. To liberate victims from this seemingly inescapable vicious cycle, it’s necessary to kick-start a virtuous cycle in which everyone is empowered to say no, ask why, and identify strategies to allow everyone in an organization to be more effective on a day-to-day basis."
Fuller offers a basic framework for doing away with unproductive meetings. It begins with transparency -- bosses need to let their workers in on the inner machinations that are going to alter their routines. A universal awareness allows for the understanding of gradual targets and eases the process by which benchmarks are met.
If you want to learn more about Fuller's precise recommendations, I recommend checking out his post (I've linked it again below). What's perhaps more fascinating here is the process through which VoloMetrix arrives at its solutions. Fuller explains:
"At VoloMetrix, we help companies quantify how much time goes into meetings and what effects they have on people. In the process, we have analyzed over 1 billion meetings across dozens of large businesses, so we have a rather unique perspective on both how widespread the problem is as well as how elusive the solutions are."
Initially I thought the billion was a typo but VoloMetrix apparently does have that much data under the hood. Just to illustrate how impressive that is: There are about 9.5 million businesses in the United States that claim revenues over $50,000. If you assume that each of those businesses (not necessarily companies, mind you) holds some sort of recurring meeting once a week, it would take over two years for the cumulative number of meetings to reach 1 billion. Safe to say that's a large enough sample size to glean some major insight. With that information stored in their vault, VoloMetrix performs diagnostics on client companies by first collecting relevant data and then analyzing it to determine places for improvement. This is how people analytics works. As it's put on the VoloMetrix site: "People analytics data provides a holistic map of your company's communication and collaboration behavior."
By collecting time management data from employees, companies that utilize people analytics can improve productivity without sacrificing employee engagement or morale. In fact, since this is basically big data doing the kind of work most people wish HR would do, most companies would be able to save time and money while simultaneously boosting employee satisfaction, especially if the agreed-upon solution includes the killing-off of unnecessary meetings. Fuller says VoloMetrix allowed one Fortune 500 company to gain back 5 hours per week per employee through its meeting-killing initiative. How much time could this sort of data save your business?
Read more at Harvard Business Review
Photo credit: g-stockstudio / Shutterstock
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
We’ve mapped a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way. Take the virtual tour here.
See the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
Astronomers have mapped about a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way, in the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.
Credit: NAOJ<p><em>Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.</em></p>
Apple sold its first iPod in 2001, and six years later it introduced the iPhone, which ushered in a new era of personal technology.