Agile decision-making practices in the age of urgency and uncertainty

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Evidently, an iterative approach calls for quality and agile decision-making. McKinsey ran a survey on decision-making in organizations as this becomes even more critical in times of urgency and uncertainty. A major finding, unsurprisingly, was how much time decision making really consumes and this time is not well used effectively. “On average, just over half of respondents report spending more than 30 percent of their working time on decision making, and more than one-quarter spend a majority of their time making decisions. That share of time increases with seniority; for example, 14 percent of C-suite respondents say they spend more than 70 percent of their time making decisions.”

However, on a positive note, in the same survey McKinsey found that for winning organizations, the quality and speed of decision making are both strongly associated with overall company performance. Faster decision-making processes and faster execution of decisions were both linked to higher returns.

No doubt organizations must take a closer look at their decision-making processes and find ways to improve speed and quality.

HR’s role in building an agile organization for an uncertain future

Thanks to the pandemic, we are all seeing how our organization are forced to respond in disruptive circumstances. Employees, managers, candidates are all experiencing how HR in our organizations are working to transform the way things are done, from remote working, dynamic reallocation of resources, through to greater digital transformation of processes.

So, it is wise to rethink HR’s role in building the organization of the future with an agile workforce. In their article, Organizing for the future: Nine keys to becoming a future-ready company, McKinsey did the research and confirmed that, “Future-ready companies share three characteristics: they know what they are and what they stand for; they operate with a fixation on speed and simplicity; and they grow by scaling up their ability to learn and innovate.” HR leaders can help in these three areas too, the how is summarized below from McKinsey’s research on HR’s role in the future-ready organization:

  1.  Solid identity. HR can help with making the organization’s purpose, value, and culture clear to everyone. In alignment with this, HR needs to foster agile talent management and create the best employee experience possible, strengthen leadership as well as build the capacity for change.
  2.  New operational model. A new organizational model must be adopted, one that flattens the organization. HR can help with enabling and facilitating agile, flexible teams, while taking better care of the people as if they were scarce talent.
  3.  Growth and scalability. HR must help by creating development initiatives that allow people in the organization to create value; these people must be able to get ahead through outlearning others. HR must lean into a learning culture by reskilling and upskilling people. However, to achieve this HR too must undergo transformation and reap value from their workforce data through useful and timely insights.
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