People Analytics: Transforming Management with Behavioral Data

People Analytics

Born out of the MIT Media Lab, people analytics, using behavioral data to understand and manage organizations, has fundamentally changed how companies operate. This course will provide participants with a foundation in people analytics through discussion and hands-on exercises with real world data and tools. There are basic questions that have an impact on businesses that no one can answer. How much does the executive team communicate with engineering? Is a manager really spending time with their team? How often should a salesperson speak with a customer? The reason we can’t answer these questions is a lack of data. Surveys and consultants are useful, but their shortcomings are evident. They’re slow, subjective, and don’t actually measure what happens in the real world.

New data has changed this equation. We are constantly generating data about our behavior: e-mail, IMs, calendar data, and increasingly sensor data about the real world. This is people analytics: using behavioral data about how people work to change how companies are managed. In this course, we’ll first investigate what data we have at our disposal now and in the near future. We’ll also discover what behavioral metrics really matter and how can you communicate these metrics to other stakeholders. Next, we’ll focus on how these new metrics and data streams can rapidly increase the speed and quality of decision making. Similar to A/B testing in the online space, now we can A/B test how businesses are managed. Compensation, IT systems, real estate decisions, and even org charts can now be rapidly deployed and quantitatively tested by combining behavioral data and key performance indicators (KPIs). We’ll discuss examples from Fortune 500 companies that have successfully used people analytics to improve their organizations, as well as how they are transitioning to an A/B testing decision making culture.

Lead Instructor(s): 

Alex Pentland
Ben Waber


Jul 6, 2020 - Jul 8, 2020

Course Length: 

3 Days

Course Fee: 





  • Open

It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. Courses with low enrollment may be cancelled up to 4 weeks before start date if sufficient enrollments are not met. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.

Registration for this course will close by June 15

Participant Takeaways: 

Takeaways from this Course Include:

  • Understanding what behavioral data you already have
  • Learning basic people analysis methods
  • Identifying organizational problems that you can address with people analytics in the near term
  • Understanding common roadblocks to implementing people analytics
  • Learning the potential value of people analytics for your organization

Who Should Attend: 

This course is ideal for directors, senior managers, executives, and business leaders in all industries who have (or want to have) responsibility for improving organizational performance.

Computer Requirements:

Laptops are strongly recommended for this course. Tablets will not be sufficient for the computing activities performed in this course.

Program Outline: 

Day 1:

  • Welcome
  • Honest Signals and Social Physics
  • People Analytics: Data and Tools
  • Group Exercise: Understanding Complexity
  • Exercise Discussion

Day 2

  • Moving from HBR Cases to A/B Testing
  • Core Tool: Social Network Analysis
  • Group Exercise: Rewire the Class with Lunch
  • Group Proposals and Vote
  • Rewired Lunch and Badge Data Collection
  • Building a People Analytics Team
  • Breaking it down:
  • What problems do you have today?

Day 3

  • Badge Metric Review
  • Group Exercise Data Analysis and Explanation
  • Analysis Discussion
  • Group Lunch Discussion: Implementing
  • People Analytics in Your Organization
  • Group Learnings
  • Adjourn

Course Schedule: 

View 2020 schedule (pdf)

This course runs 9:00 am - 5:00 pm on Monday, 9:00 am - 4:30 pm on Tuesday, and 9:00 am - 1:30 pm on Wednesday.



This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please complete the Custom Programs request form for further details.


Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (35%) 35
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (30%) 30
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (35%) 35

Delivery Methods: 

Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (30%) 30
Discussion or Group Work: Participatory learning (50%) 50
Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (20%) 20


Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (40%) 40
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (60%) 60