‘I am not a number.’

I think you’ll find you are.

Like grazing animals we pull with seemingly insatiable hunger at the rich green grass that is Big Data. It’s the new panacea, probably with another weird language that people will be eager to learn in order to demonstrate easy familiarity.

A few years ago, the potential presented by global research organisations to benchmark everything was devoured with an indecent eagerness (to the point, in some instances, of ignoring vital findings such as the number of people who declined to answer certain questions….)

Whilst numbers have their place and are important, relying on them to the exclusion of all else and hiding behind them when they should never have been applied in the first place, is at best naïve. At worst it risks leaving knowledge forever buried.

Please let’s not fail to recognise the value in talking to people. And let’s not forget that they are people and not the latest invention by Apple. They are the life blood of your organisation, they are critical to your success and they should be the best advocates of your employer brand. Through them you manage your brand.

Individuals and groups have opinions and beliefs that are influenced on an ongoing basis by the people they interact with personally and professionally; by their priorities at any given stage in life; by the way their organisation behaves, by its purpose and values; by what motivates and inspires and by the environment they work within.

A group of people creates an ever changing, moving, lively dynamic… so you’re not going to find out everything you need to know through a barrage of multiple choice questions, however cleverly written. You need to talk to them.

Sadly though, there’s comfort in volume and reassurance in the fact that ‘everyone else is doing it’; the tacit acknowledgement that something is good because we want it to be and everyone is prepared to collectively agree that it is…

I have no data to validate the above observations – for that is what they are, based on an arguably relevant combination of common sense and the ability to see.