What sort of animal are you?

We asked delegates at a couple of events, if workforce analytics and planning were animal, what would it be and why?  They came up with some impressive answers. These ranged from enthusiasts at one end of the spectrum to cynics at the other, with realists somewhere in between. 

The enthusiasts came up with the following: a squirrel - ensures survival by skillfully guaranteeing its future supply of sustenance; a meerkat - an effective team player, that can see further ahead than others, by standing on its hind legs.  So the choice here is between a rapidly multiplying rodent and a cool star from an African natural history documentary.  However, their chosen attributes are ideally suited to the workforce planning role.

The realists seem to be even more attracted by African wild life. They came up with: a hippo: spends most of its time submerged, with its hardworking limbs un-noticed, however, it has a vicious bite; a chameleon - ever changing to match its environment and if a bit gets chopped off, it regenerates itself spontaneously.  Realists clearly realize that amount effort required in the planning process.  They would have also encountered the centre attempting to sweep away forms and bureaucracy being followed by incredulity of “what, you mean you can tell me how many…we have got?”

The cynics pluck their animals from more diverse sources.  They include: a unicorn: some people say that they have seen it once a year, but think that they are deluded; a giant panda - facing extinction, but kept alive by being hand-fed by an indulgent central government; a duckbilled platypus a weird hybrid and hardy survivor from an earlier era.  A feature reflected by these descriptions is that workforce planning does not have much of a role within their own organizations; rather, it is a more elevated part of the hierarchy requiring some plans for their own purposes, for example educational commissions in the NHS.

It is interesting to speculate whether people involved in workforce planning go through these three stages and whether they start off as enthusiasts, then become realists and finally add up as cynics.  If this were true, it would be a sad waste of experience.  They represent corporate memory, which is so often lost with the rapid chopping reorganisations.  The challenge would be to re-engage the cynics so that they can be super-charged realists.

In terms of rapid research, this proved to be a very cost effective exercise, costing only £20 on each occasion.  The winner was selected by a show of hands - very transparent – without a whiff of a fix unlike some televised counterparts. We will certainly be using this approach again.

One thing is for certain: that these workforce planners have an impressive imagination that would not be out of place in advertising agency.  Failing that they might be going on exotic holidays, or assisting Richard Attenborough’s next natural history documentary.     

George Blair


Posted by George Blair on August 24th 2018

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