INTRODUCTIONWhy We Wrote This Book The Data Sets You Free

When companies talk about “big data,” they’re talking about how to better understand the great, big world out there, beyond their corporate walls. What happens inside those walls has historically been seen as too fuzzy, too qualitative, to lend itself to rigorous research and management of big data. The internal workings, especially where people are involved, have been seen as “the soft stuff” and shielded from hard science. Certainly, there have been employee morale surveys and the tracking of retention rates, but organizations haven’t done the kind of work that would allow them to understand what really works and what’s folklore when it comes to managing organizations in ways that will win in the marketplace. People bring a lot of intellect and common sense to management, but common sense isn’t always enough—witness what behavioral economists are teaching us about the quirks of customer behavior versus the old approach to economics that assumed that all actors were perfectly rational.

It’s time to recognize that “the soft stuff” is really the hard stuff and to bring hard science to management.

Moving organizational behavior into the realm of science is the core mission of this book. We prefer facts over fiction. We think HR, for instance, needs less PowerPoint and more Excel. We’re not saying all the facts are easy. Markets and businesses are ecosystems, not machines, so interactions can be hard to discern. But we ...

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