cross posted on my work blog)

Readers of this blog will know that I am an avid but plodding cyclist.  It gets me away from the desk, and means I can bore for Germany on components, frames, cadence, altitude and the like.

I sometimes run, and recently an old school friend bet me that I couldn’t run 10K under 50 minutes by the end of September. Not being one to ignore a challenge, I took him on.  

Running used to be a simple affair.  But in order to go for a run, I “need”

a) my minimalist five fingers running shoes.

b) a  fully charged iphone

c) headphones that don’t fall out my ears

d) heart rate strap

e) strava run application.

f) the right spotify play list.

Measurement has changed running. I know exactly what heart rate to run at and at what pace per minute.  It takes me at least 10 minutes to get out the door.

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is one of the most abused scientific principles, but it applies here.  My efforts to measure running has changed my running.

What has this got to do with HR systems?

I have noticed a  trend from vendors to include a field called Flight Risk into their talent management systems.  I reckon this isn’t a good idea.

1. 99% of HR systems don’t have accurate enough data to remove false positives

2. The data to really predict flight risk isn’t in the HR system.

3. Telling someone who isn’t a a flight risk that the system thinks they are one will make them into one.

4. Managers will react differently to the same data.

5. It will taint other, more accurate results.

 

To assume you can build an algorithm to predict whether a person is likely to leave their job or not based on the shoddy data in a talent management application is arrogant and irresponsible.  Vendors’ crude attempts to measure human intentions will create unintended consequences, most of them bad.

 

In case you are wondering, I won the bet…