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Book Review: Data-driven Organization Design

Data-Driven Organization DesignA new book, “Data-Driven Organization: Sustaining the competitive edge through organizational analytics,” by Rupert Morrison addresses one of today’s most pervasive business challenges – how to capitalize on the wealth data organizations possess to help employees to perform.

Business functions such as IT, sales, marketing and finance have historically capitalized on data analytics for strategic decision-making. The human resources (HR) function, however, still lags behind. Even for those companies that hold analytics in high esteem, the handful that are furthest along their HR analytics path still have a long way to go. The rest are still grappling with chronic data problems, such as missing, outdated or dirty data, or are straddled with producing ad-hoc reports to deliver standard operational metrics.

The book points out that most business decisions today that directly impact employees have either been made on gut-instinct or financial data rather than people and HR process data. The author stresses that an org chart or spreadsheet has never done justice to the job of organization design or the employees they represent. Further, he points out that in many ways, the current practice of organizational redesigns and transformations still neglect the people at the heart of them. They fail to focus change on maximizing people potential and performance. Given that people should be considered an organization’s greatest asset, such a reality is staggering and one which needs to change. The challenge for organizations now is to close the gap between organizational inputs and business performance outputs.

The book will help HR and organization design practitioners by empowering them with a practical roadmap that can be used in high-level planning right down to everyday challenges. Whether carrying out a large or small-scale redesign, this book aims to provide a guide to ensure a successful transformation that will bring long-lasting impact.

The book contains 3 sections: Macro, Micro and Making it Real. The Macro section focuses on the big picture, the strategy and the case for organizational change. The book issues a stern warning of implementing a redesign without understanding the risks, the preferred focus being on areas of the organization which most need improvement and only undertaking a full redesign if there is an overwhelming case for change.

The Micro section outlines how practitioners can get the most out of their data and analytics to link the crucial elements of their business together in order to get a “single version of the truth” as a starting point to drive business performance. Practitioners need to first understand the state of their organizations, through analytics and data visualization before they can successfully design their desired processes and structures.

Lastly, the Making it Real section is what makes this book so valuable – the implementation and tracking of any organizational change project which is often the most difficult element of a redesign, and yet the most key when it comes to success.


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