Chapter 1Where’s the Value?

Our only security is our ability to change.

—John Lilly

In a famous 1984 TV commercial, 82-year-old actress Clara Peller looks at a huge hamburger bun overwhelming a tiny meat patty and mutters the now-iconic phrase in her raspy voice, “Where’s the beef?” It is the same question asked today by nonstatisticians. In our new world of Big Data and outrageously fast computers, many of us feel overwhelmed. When the numerati speak effusively about the power of analytics, laypeople roll their eyes. Without a graduate degree in statistical analysis, and especially in predictive analytics, the average person feels woefully ignorant, powerless, blind, and lost. Paradoxically, analytics is logical and understandable. It is simply a method for letting computers apply their power of manipulation to expose valuable insights. This book will take you step by step from the desire to analyze data to a comprehensible, actionable result and on to a view of the future of human resource analytics. In the end, you will find the beef.


There are at least two ways of solving problems. The most common one is simply to attack it head on and hope for the best. This is similar to dealing with a pesky mosquito. You feel it on your arm and you swat it. This is a simple, highly effective reaction. The only apparent consequence is perhaps a little blood spot. But if there is more than one mosquito, you have to do it over and over. More important, mosquitoes often carry ...

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