There’s an old saying about economists that crops up every now and then, and goes a long way toward explaining why economic analysis sometimes gets a bad rap. The saying is that an economist will look at a person with one foot in a bucket of ice and the other in a bucket of fire and proclaim that, in terms of an average temperature, that person should be just fine. This saying was recently repeated (by me) at a workforce conference at the Kansas City Federal Reserve. I used it to illustrate that American business can no longer take an “on average” view of their workforce investments. As in other business processes, talent management must drill down to cause, effect and customized solutions similar to those used in customer service, market identification, supply chains, and process control.