This is a super valuable discussion to have for our community. Thank you Whitney for starting it here.
I want to quote the article that helped spring this discussion by Manneesh on twitter . The article, which appears to also be somewhat of an advertorial* by the VP of marketing at Enkata, includes this interesting section (emphasis mine):
[quote]Is this creepy? **It shouldn’t be as long as employers approach it in the right way. Keystroke logging, screen recording and spyware aren’t the way for managers to get the information they need to help people improve. **
Here are the challenges employers will face as they look into data driven performance improvement.
1.) Getting meaningful data, and only meaningful data. Employers need to be able to capture and organize information in a way that can actually lead to insights. This is very different from capturing vast amounts of irrelevant data. Work data is generally unstructured, and fragmented across many systems. Pulling the right data into a single repository is a real challenge.
2.) Getting insight from data. What are the real cause-and-effect levers that cause some people to be so much more productive than others? How do you weed out spurious correlations? Many big data initiatives fail because value can’t be found in the data. Fortunately, with performance data, Enkata has found that many opportunities for improvement are obvious once the data is studied in the right way.
3.) Driving change from insight. Employers need to find ways to actually get employees to take action based on the insights. Otherwise, the data is useless. If the company can’t get the results, than the data is just one more analytics dashboard doing no good for anyone.
The idea of the quantified enterprise strikes some people as a little odd or “big brother.” At least with the quantified self, people can keep their data to themselves. What we’ve found is that, if approached the right way, these concerns can be addressed in a way that makes everyone comfortable with the program.[/quote]
To me these notions (bolded) are too simply put to really understand what’s going on here with either a) the Enkata system and b) what it means to be useful and improve “work” with data.
I think Whitney is on to something here by placing workplace tracking into another category than Quantified Self. Think about the tag line we use for QS, “self knowledge through numbers.” Or something Gary and I have tossed around lately, “personal meaning from personal data.” When we get into the idea and implementation of data gathering, tracking, and insight development at the workplace level we start to fuzz the meaning of “personal” and “self”.
That is not to say that should be considered as an affront to QS and the values we’ve started to explore and produce as a community. I think that in certain cases we can explore self-hood as a community of individuals. We’ve started to see rumblings of this with Esther Dyson’s ideas around the Quantified Community. One of the things to think of here, and of great importance when thinking of the power dynamics of work, is the difference between “data for us” versus “data for me about you.” I think that in many cases those advocating for applying tracking in workplace (and you could say that this is not new concept) are moving rapidly into the “date for me [work] about you [worker]” than encouraging the collection and exploration of self-determined tracking and the resulting data and insights.
Some more reading to spark conversation:
[*]Tesco uses armbands to track workers
Just ran across an interesting example that could spark more discussion on using tracking at/for work:
[quote]At Buffer, not only does everyone get a wristband, the tracked data is shared among the team. Rather than coming off as intrusive or ‘Big Brother,’ the practice ends up sparking conversations about the connection between personal energy levels and productivity at work – and that can be enlightening in itself.
“Work smarter, not harder” is one of Buffer’s mantras, and they use the Jawbone to get those critical insights on how, for example, the amount of sleep they got affects how much work they got done.[/quote]
* I apologize for this comment. I was a bit confused by the nature of the post, but in good faith the author has commented below.