Podcast: From Data Scientist to Data Artist

How can you become more effective at leveraging data to make better decisions for your Talent function, and, convincing everyone of its merits at the same time?
Peter O’Hanlon, founder of Lever Analytics, reckons that the key lies in the “interface” between the science and art of People Analytics. By maximising the value of both components, it makes for a perfect tool for convincing people of what the next steps ought to be.
“Organisations are complex and they are full of people, not machines, and therefore we need to apply judgement and we need to influence,” he said. “And if you are just going to do one (data = science) without recognising the importance of the other (human element), we are going to have an army of robots or an army of artists.”
Where is a good balance? How can a Data Scientist evolve to become a Data Artist who is able to draw compelling pictures using data to tell an accurate story that connects with the people who make important business decisions?
Peter sat down with podcasters David Guazzarotto and Jared Cameron from Future Knowledge, to discuss his thoughts on People Analytics and his upcoming speaking session at People Analytics & the Future of Talent Conference in Sydney.
Check it out:


Summary of Podcast

Learn how to regain control over your workforce

“LinkedIn knows more about your people than you do,” says Peter. It’s been standard practice in the past to see HR data as sufficient for talent management, but workplaces have sped up so much now that we need a new way of managing people. So what’s the solution?
“People analytics is a bit of a fad right now,” but it’s been around for ages, and with good reason. People Analytics is the more holistic option when using big data to make decisions, because it’s using the big picture to grapple with big data.

Close the gap between art and science

People analytics’ biggest advantage is its duality. It is a scientific process that constantly tests its own assumptions, making it dynamic and versatile, but it’s also an art form that requires intuition and interpretation. The most exciting part of people analytics is “the interface between AI and human knowledge”, and maximising the value of both, says Peter. People analytics experts are not data scientists; they are “data artists”.
Use data with conviction and creativity and people will believe you. People analytics isn’t just a planning, management, and insight tool. It’s also perfect for convincing people of what the next step should be. Peter’s session will capitalise on this aspect by developing journey maps that take people analytics into account in developing an overarching people strategy.

Create meaningful action plans using analytics

Keeping all this in mind, it’s important to remember there’s a real risk of overcomplicating things. When you’ve got all your data in front of you and you’re trying to connect it all, “it’s hard to tell when to stop.” Peter suggests the best way forward is to identify the changes you want to make, then delve into the data and see if it supports your decision, a practise that he plans to demonstrate in his workshop.
The idea is to keep flexibility baked into your overarching strategy – don’t delve through a pile of data and try and predict the future. At the conference Peter’s session will involve simulating two and a half years of business at an imaginary organisation, charting changes in market, leadership and personnel, tracking disruptions, etc. And work out how to harness intelligent feedback to ensure the business survives and thrives.

Change the conversation around data

“If you have an interest in people, more than just a passing interest, but people being fundamental to your business result,” you need a people strategy, says Peter. For that to happen, if you’re not already in a position to make that change, you need to make the business case for it. Peter’s suggestion? Stop talking about performance appraisal and other HR analytics terms – start talking about revenue, gross margin, etc. Reframe the conversation to business strategy, and you’ll have a foot in the door.


If you want to know more about how to make People Analytics the darling of your organisation’s strategic planning, join Peter O’Hanlon at the People Analytics & the Future of Talent Conference where he’ll be doing a keynote and running a half-day workshop titled “2.5 years of business transformation in 2.5 hours – the power of People Analytics”.

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