Post-Covid Decision-Making for Today’s Leaders
The current business environment is complex at best, disjointed and disrupted at worst. Post-covid talent market is tight and employee demands have shifted. The global supply chain remains tumultuous, showing little if any sign of returning to order in the near term. Technology is evolving rapidly, driving a deluge of new platforms and other tech solutions. Adding in the pressures of climate change and other ESG issues, today’s leaders face multiple high-stakes decision-making challenges every day.
Increasingly Complex and Continuous, Data is Key
A recent Gartner survey reported 65% of decisions made by senior executives are significantly more complex, involving more stakeholders and choices, than they were 2 years ago. (Gartner.com 10/20/2021) With impact extending across organizations and ecosystems, decisions must be made in a much broader context with a longer arc of potential consequences. Also, given the rapidly shifting business landscape, decision making must be a continuous process. As companies seek to keep all options open, data is critical.
Forbes reported a considerable uptick in the use of data in organizational decision-making, especially post-Covid. Companies with data-driven approaches were able to pivot quickly, making informed decisions based on evidence, not intuition. (Forbes.com 11/04/2021) In the wake of uncertainty, leaders must consider what information is needed to stay informed, then ensure its continuous and accurate sourcing and analysis. Data has become essential in determining meaningful decision alternatives based on multiple variables and numerous scenarios.
AI and Humans Make Great Partners
Human decision-makers and AI make great decision-making partners. They complement one another, bringing together increasing amounts of data, analytics, models, and algorithms, with human common sense and practical experience. The combination is a powerful synergism which can provide clarity in otherwise unclear situations.
Companies that employ this powerful pairing respond more quickly and with greater certainty than competitors that are less data-driven. Change is a constant, giving data front runners a distinct competitive advantage.
Decision-Making System Improves Complex Problem-Solving
Renowned author, professor, and executive coach Cheryl Einhorn offers a useful roadmap for decision-making to solve complex problems. Her AREA Method helps corporate leaders and individuals alike address ambiguity and uncertainty by gathering input from four key perspectives: A for Absolute – uninfluenced research, primary data from the source; R for Relative – secondary information from others; E for Exploration – listening to others and Exploitation – examining your own assumptions; and A for Analysis – interpreting all of the above.
Stop Micro-managing, Trust Your People, Learn from Decisions
Corporate structure can slow decision-making and impede progress. Teams are less agile and responsive under layers of management. Senior leaders should set strategy, remove roadblocks, and empower their subordinates: Stop micro-managing and trust your people. Be clear on goals/desired outcomes. Overcome fear of losing control and delegate responsibility. Build a culture of “failing forward” and support reversal of bad decisions.
Consider implementing a regular debriefing process to improve decision-making over time. Gather representatives from across the organization. Reexamine input, both data/artificial and human intelligence. Contextualize the business environment, i.e. disruptions in supply chain, production, or customer experiences. Evaluate actual outcomes against goals. Assign a “devil’s advocate” to test assumptions and suggest improvements. Looking backwards can significantly enhance the ability to make good decisions in the future.
Steady Leadership through Uncertain Times
According to Marianna Carbonari, Value for Talent CEO, and IMSA Search Global Partners Italy Managing Partner, “Uncertainty is the norm in any complex organization, especially post-Covid. An effective leader must be able to clearly communicate the organization’s purpose and values while navigating through all types of uncertainty and ambiguity. Today’s strongest leaders demonstrate a high level of empathy, energy, and emotional intelligence.”
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