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The "art" of compensation is ---- knowing what is science and what is "art". If you get my drift . . . .

Good observation, Jacque. Or maybe the actual science of compensation involves knowing how much of what is presented as "science" is really just "art." Almost everyone has had some experience with artistically creative applications of scientific terms in ways that communicate "truthy" ideas that are not correct despite their impressive wrappers. Technical scientific terms can be slapped on things to imply a degree of reliability and authority that simply does not exist. That kind of “art” is often called “propaganda,” “marketing,” or “advertising.”

Gotta be careful, out there.

Well written and important reminder. Too often we get stuck in the "that's what the says says" mode. We need to remember that before it was data, it was the same, often messy, pay for individuals.

Jim - excellent post. I loved the line about Bill Gates walks in and everyone becomes a millionaire(on average) - does this mean he starts handing out money ? Ha !

When talking about Comp Data, I refer to the definitions of two words. "accurate" and "precise". Sure its subtle. But if I am training a Comp Analyst on what I expect of them, how they should interpret data, and how they should represent it to managers I would much rather them work towards "accurate" (free of errors as a result of being careful and thorough) vs telling managers that the data (and its analysis) represent a "precise" fact (minutely exact and perfectly conforming).

Again - excellent post.... with permission, I may use that Bill Gates line !

Thanks, Dan & Jeffrey. It is wise to always be aware of the limitations of what words really mean. Living North of Seattle, I can't claim ownership of the Gates line, which simply illustrates the way understandings slide to imply that an average is what individuals possess rather than a computed number that may not match any actual observation at all.

Thought this was quite good - given that Jim and I recently exchanged observations about the issue of "predictive analysis" and the apparent change-able disdain (or endorsement) of that process by a colleague.

In my time working the D.C. area, I've become sensitized to the often-made (and rarely challenged) statement of people to offer both "facts" and "true facts". However, I've not yet figured out what distinguishes one group from the other.

Compensation management really is an art and not a science and the market is only one bit of data to take into account in setting an appropriate rate in your company.

The skill is generally acquired with experience rather than just examining spreadsheets.

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