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#360: Every Consultant Needs a Solid Understanding of Statistics

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, July 30, 2010
Updated: Friday, July 30, 2010
My firm focuses primarily on training and HR consulting. We don't do process reengineering or analytics so is there a reason why we need to develop our staff in analysis or statistical skills?

In a word - yes, particularly statistics. In an increasingly technical world, anyone advising management of a business, nonprofit or government agency needs to know the fundamentals of probability, sampling, inference and (perhaps most of all) how to both display and interpret statistical information. The potential to misinterpret information from a poorly analyzed dataset or prepared graph can mean the difference between solid advice and misdirection. If you can't understand the nuances of data, you have no business giving advice.

Just because you are an HR firm doesn't mean you don't have use for statistical analysis. Designing and interpreting employee surveys, evaluating the effectiveness of training curricula, and predicting social demographic or company trends all require solid statistical skills. As a consultant to a business function where practitioners may be less skilled in statistical analyses than others, you have an extra responsibility to assure that HR is solid in its use of analysis in pursuit of performance.

Tip: Validity, reliability, correlation, inference, sampling, validation are all concepts with which you should be familiar. Look around for some primers on statistics such as Statistics for Managing Human Resources, or even Statistics for Dummies

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  customer understanding  data visualization  learning  professional development  statistics 

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