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Broaden Your Aperture: “Green” Strategic Workforce Planning

This is the third in a series of eight blog posts that focus on Strategic Workforce Planning.

Purposely looking outside the box is probably one of the most valuable approaches we can use for Green Strategic Workforce Planning. It requires the willingness to 1) recognize our preconceived notions and 2) be willing to consider data that may contradict what we know, or what we think we know, about the challenge at hand.

After you have a clear description of the Business Need, you will want to spend time describing how you are approaching that situation now, if at all. Then, broaden your aperture.

Ensure you have a balance of data. Quantitative and qualitative data both are important, because the numbers will give you a big picture look at the problem and the narrative will point you towards the nuances that give context.

ESG reports are a great example: A company may have an A rating from the ESG rating company Refinitiv, and the report’s narrative explains why the organization received the A rating as well as discloses more about any related risks that investors, clients, employees, and other stakeholders need to know about.

Consider many kinds of data sources that could help you try a new or novel approach in the future. Ask your team for sources they would suggest.

For example, some of those that might be valuable could include:

  • Identifying how your competition currently is addressing this kind of problem or beginning to address this specific issue. Look for publicly available reports, including 10Ks and ESG reports. The SEC also now requires human capital disclosures for people-related data (although the quality of data reported varies greatly).

  • Are there any industry adjacent organizations with data to consider? For example, you might be an engineering firm, and hiring data from public agencies with an engineering focus (such as the Army Corps of Engineers) could prove useful.

  • Look at industry data, with an eye towards regional, national, and international perspectives. Professional and trade associations are often excellent sources.

  • Consider phone interviews with leaders in your field and outside of it. Talk with people you know about what they are seeing and what they know about the issue. Ask them for suggested data sources.

  • Meet with faculty professors who study the kind of problem you are looking at. Often university researchers are on the cutting edge of new knowledge or innovative practices, and they often are particularly skilled at disrupting business-as-usual because they see things from a different or external perspective. Again, ask them for suggested data sources to consider.

  • Business sector data is also essential and quite valuable for gaining a big-picture look at the problem and its potential cascading effects.

  • Don’t forget about futurists. There are many great organizations, such as the Future Today Institute, that can provide views of current trends (which are based on data).

And of course, lean into the knowledge available from the human resources team and the strategic intelligence office at your workplace. What are they seeing and hearing about this issue? What data can they offer that can guide you in more fully seeing the full picture?

Some questions to consider:

  • Have you identified a comprehensive list of possible sources of qualitative and quantitative data, by category?

  • Have you identified at least 2 or 3 good sources for each category?

Read the first and the second in the series of eight blog posts that focus on Strategic Workforce Planning.

Can we help with building the skills you need to advance greener outcomes?

Reach out to Beth Offenbacker, PhD, CPCC, ACC, at or via phone or text at 703-623-4811 to discuss if our Green Career, Executive/Leadership Coaching, Strategic Workforce Planning, Small Group Mentoring, or Learning & Development services are right for you.

We work with professionals and organizations that have a sustainability focus in their work. All services are customized to your needs.

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