To score well at Scrabble, you need to look at the score, not the just word. Long words across the board might look good, but unless they land on double or triples, you simply waste letters and open up the board for the others to score. Literary types like to think that they are good at Scrabble because they know lots of words and are well read, but Qi or QANAT aren’t something that even the most literary of souls come across in literature. To win at Scrabble you need to look at the numbers and the odds, know what letters have gone already, and have a mental database of short nasty words like ZO and XU. Sure, a love of words helps with Scrabble, but to score well, you need to engage the numeric side of your brain.
It may be stretching it a bit, but I think HR has a similar challenge.
To be a top HR professional, you do need to have empathy for people. It is probably what attracted you to the job in the first place. But if you are going to succeed you need to be analytical too. HR professionals that can see patterns beyond the incident, abstract the problems from the personal, and make the best move given the constraints they have been dealt with, will have a real impact on shaping the business and their careers.
We are doing a lot of work at the moment on pattern based strategy here at Gartner (clients see this). I’m going to be exploring this is in an HR context later this year. Extracting and analysing patterns out of the mass of data sources and conflicting signals. HR is going to get a lot more analytical.