This week I am attending KnmowledgeAdvisors’ 7th Annual Analytics Symposium. KnowledgeAdvisors is a great company focused both on its own and its clients’ business success and the advancment of human capital management as a business discipline. Wednesday’s opening Keynote was delivered by Cedric Coco from Lowe’s Companies. He posed and answered the question: How do we measure the value of, then optimize our company’s most strategic asset…our employees? Cedric described the Human Capital Business Model he and his team have built, and are continuing to develop. He begins with the view that people are the largest unmanaged asset in a company. “Unmanaged” doesn’t mean there are no managers: it does mean that companies do not have enough specific knowledge of the role people play in the company’s value proposition to effectively manage the recruitment, hiring, onboarding, engagement, development, and assessment of their people. The idea - which will be further developed today and tomorrow by Heather Maitre, Chris Hardy, Tom Davenport, Laurie Bassi, Dave Vance, Jac Fitz-enz, and Nick Bontis - is that people create value and those who invest in people create greater market value than those who don’t. The key, of course, is defining what precisely to invest in. So, Cedric’s team has done a lot of work and have determined: (a) that the factor that correlates very highly with specific business results like revenue, customer satisfaction, and lower costs is “employee engagement”; and (b) that there are very specific factors that constitute “engagement” in their company. They now know that if they invest in A, B, and C they can optimize engagement, and that engagement optimized to a specific measured level will produce a predictable level of revenue, customer satisfaction, and cost. This basic Human Capital Business Model is now the foundation of a very specific HR strategy, a focused creation of a specific employee experience, and an analytics strategy that will keep the company on top of changes in the factors that drive engagement and business results. Interestingly, Cedric and his team have also drilled down into the “employee experience” element in their strategy and, through lifecycle research, have defined what that experience should be like at each phase of the emploment lifecycle and how to measure it: acquisition, onboarding, engagement, and transition (to another role, to another company, or to retirement).It’s terrific to see such a disciplined approach to defining, developing, and rewarding the specific roles people play that drive specific business outcomes. As a bonus, Josh Bersin (Bersin & Associates) concluded the day with a view of trends and issues in the L&D and Talent Management worlds. The sad aspect of Josh’s research is how few companies have set goals for themselves to manage the acquisition, engagement, development, and retention of their most strategic asset…their employees. By the way, Josh published a book last year titled The Training Management Book. Josh has developed a framework for planning, managing, and measuring any intervention designed to improve the performance of people in a business. While it focuses specifically on training, you can immediately see how you can use the framework for other change initiatives. I highly recommend Josh’s book to all HR professionals.