(Nov 19, 2008)Population Distributions Defined
There’s a pretty length series of discussions about Population Distribution Diagrams (PDDs) in the archives. (There’s also a list of links at the end of this piece).
In a nutshell, PDDs are graphs that show how a group of people are distributed along the lines of calendar age, tenure within the organization, experience within the industry and so on. (They used to be called Population Pyramids because that was the normal view of things) On the vertical axis, you have banding by time (five year increments give you a standard span of adult life). On the horizontal axis, one or two variables (Gender is commonly found. That would be 2 variants, male-female.) The graphs are designed to show the impact of time or duration on one aspect.
The basic PDD Simply shows Gender population in age bands. Over time, the ways that population changes are eeasier to understand using snapshot PDDs. There is a growing consensus that a PDD can help you understand the current health, agility and long term prospects for a culture.
Check out these snapshots of Population Change in Algeria.
You can see that the population of Algeria begins as a pyramid, develops a youth bulge and then transforms into something other than a pyramid.
Similar things are happening in India, China, Pakistan and much of South Asia. Meanwhile, more developed countries show a different dynamic (notice the narrowing of the base in Italy, Germany and Japan … that’s what a shrinking population looks like…getting older and smaller)
Our companies, non-profits and government organizations can (and should be) viewed in this way. Age distributions (or tenure/experience) can tell you a lot about a company’s health and circumstances.
Is the culture aging? Is it growing or shrinking? Where is the bulge?
But, what’s more interesting is that the tools can be used to drive a conversation about the ideal shape of the organization. This makes it possible for Workforce development functions to become truly strategic. In my book, “strategic” means “able to have an independent, measurable, positive outcome that supports or drives the core mission. Images of a sought after PD shape can infuse each Staffing transaction with strategic importance.
The goal of strategic relevance is not achievable by a reactive function.
It’s clear that some Population Distribution shapes foster growth and innovation while others retard it. Some are expensive to maintain in the near term; some are unsustainable in the long term.
The project is designed to open a long conversation on workforce sustainability.
The PDD Series