As Christmas winds to an end, several households are struggling with a conundrum. What should you do with the leftover turkey? There are downsides to having this carcass. It hogs fridge space, you will be eating turkey for days, and some people just hate leftovers. I know people who are tempted to throw the whole thing in the garbage. But don’t. Leftover turkey is a great opportunity to whip up some butter turkey or turkey noodle casserole.
When there’s nothing left but bones, it’s time to make turkey stock. Boiling down a turkey carcass into stock is one of the great wonders of household management. It’s so well-seasoned you don’t need to add any vegetables. While the stock simmers, filling your home with great smells, you can accomplish something else, in a season when there’s some time to catch up with friends or wrap up loose ends.
With workforce analytics this kind of thing happens all the time. Once you get on top of a major headcount puzzle, you will have spreadsheets and a few pages of code that are available for more than one purpose. Like turkey leftovers, it’s worthwhile to be bold and repurpose them.
My favorite experience was when I built an entire hierarchy of jobs in order to identify when people had been promoted. In large organizations it can be ambiguous which job movements are upward or downward. Often, promotions are not categorized as promotions, especially if people change departments, leave and come back, or get a job temporarily prior to being made permanent.
To get past this obstacle we created a simple reference table that identified where someone was in a hierarchical career ladder, assigning a two-digit code to 1,200 job descriptions. It was hard and tedious work that was entirely for the benefit of the back-engine of our promotions model. But we eventually got the promotions model to work at a level of high accuracy, after which the client was able to use the information to influence high-level decisions. That was the full turkey dinner.
Shortly after we finished this promotions model we got new demands for work which took advantage of the back-engine. Our happiest client was the one who just needed the list of rank indicators for the 1,200 job descriptions. They needed to send emails to a limited number of high-ranking people, so those people knew about breaking events before their subordinates and would know what to say. With our organizational complexity and some turnover at the top, it was hard to identify who was senior. What our client needed was a rules-based way of identifying who should get their emails. Looking at our rank tables, they were able to choose a small number of rank categories and let the code do the work for them. In the process they uncovered that one senior executive had been previously overlooked. Now they were able to get the information out to the right people.
This client got the analytics equivalent of turkey soup. They just needed the bones from inside the promotions query to be boiled down to create a new, skillfully-repurposed product that met their needs.
Do you have the opportunity to repurpose your own big wins? That time you got on top of a major health concern, did you also develop healthy habits that improved other parts of your life? If you overcame a difficult business relationship, did you also learn what your triggers are, and how to regulate them in future? At the end of a big project, did you go for drinks afterward and end up with a few new friends?
Sometimes it seems like you’re just working hard to make other people happy. But if you accomplished nothing in the last year except healthy habits, self-awareness, and more meaningful relationships, would you even recognize that this counts as success?
So put on your wool socks, turn the TV to your guilty pleasures, and curl up with that bowl of turkey soup. It should feel good. So take a deep breath and enjoy it.
[This is a re-post, with edits, of an article from October 10, 2017]