Asking “Right” Question is the Mantra for HR & HR Analytics to Stay on the Table

In Today’s talent economy, HR has a seat at the table (I call them great companies and constitutes to 20%) or pushing hard to secure one (I call them good companies and constitutes to 60%). However, that is not equal to voice at the table. To stay on the table, HR needs to develop business acumen – seeing the big picture else as said by Henry Ford:

“If you always do what you’ve always done,
you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Kevin Rope, the author of Seeing the Big Picture, a 1 Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times bestseller defines Business Acumen as “keen, fundamental, street-smart insight into how your business operates and how it makes money and sustains profitable growth, now and in the future.” What does this mean to HR? Dave Ulrich, one of the top HR influencer in the world, frames 3-4 examples of strategic HR issues (questions/problem statements) in 3 minutes video below.


I believe, the origin of the business acumen is, an ability to frame and ask the right question. A question framed right sets the right direction for analysis, narrative and communicating it to stakeholders.


“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

– Albert Einstein


What Makes a Perfect Strategic Question?

A complete question should do the following three things i.e. 1) post a problem, 2) shape the issue in a testable hypothesis, and 3) provide space to report the results using quantitative and/or qualitative data. The Thompson Writing Program (TWP) of Duke University, acknowledged as one of the premier academic writing programs in the USA, published a paper on what makes a good research question?



Janine Milne, an editor for HR technology and business, echo the same but also emphasizes the importance of working in collaboration with business leaders to make a real difference, in her article HR analytics is about asking the right questions.



However, Let’s Not Confuse Usual HR Metric with Strategic HR Questions

Mixing business as usual HR metrics with strategic business problems is one of the common mistakes we do in day-to-day life. To help you differentiate, Linda de Jong, allied to Inostix by Deloitte, writes on How asking predictive HR analytics questions can add value!


Top 25 Questions to Boost Your Seat at the Table through Workforce Analytics

Having learned the ingredient of a perfect business question, start thinking about your company strategic problem statements. Define it. Write it. To get you started quickly, HCMI CEO Jeff Higgins has compiled a list of Top 25 questions that any HR leader should be asking.



100 More Questions that HR Analytics can answer

I know, you need more. Here is the further help available to you from Laurie Bassi. She consolidated 100 possible questions that HR with data analytics team can answer.



Finally, for Data Geeks – Your Data will not Speak Unless You Ask It The Right Data Analysis Questions

A need of asking the right question is not only limited while framing the perfect business hypothesis but also during data analysis. Agata Kwapien provides a framework for analyzing any unstructured problem in structured which pushes you to ask right questions – what analysis, which data, the level of granularity, techniques, what visualization and who.




Watch 7 minutes videos on The : What Does it Mean for the HR Practitioner by Christopher J. Collins. He is an Associate Professor of Human Resource Management and Director of CAHRS in the ILR School at Cornell Universit





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