Part two of my thoughts on McKinsey’s recent “flaws in strategic decision making”, which reports some findings that those guiding strategic workforce decisions should be thinking about.
Reaching good outcomes had three themes – assessment, process and targets.  The last post was on assessment, this one is on decision making PROCESS.   The McKinsey paper describes this as seeking contrary evidence, ensuring that
decision makers had all the critical information, giving dissenting voices the floor, reviewing the business case thoroughly even though senior executives were strongly in favor, and ensuring that truly innovative ideas reached senior managers.  How are workforce decisions doing on that front? 
  1. Seeking contrary evidence.  If you get the right people in the project this will happen – and if you charter yourself with structured environment scanning, playing the devil’s advocate, and of course using that famed workforce planner tool “why”, you can find contrary evidence.  But it may not come naturally – strong voices can overcome dissent AND contrary evidence….unless carefully managed.  Our workforce planning workshops can help you with those skills.
  2. Ensuring that decision makers had all the critical information.  This one sounds easy, and sounds like reports from our workforce dashboards are all we need – but take care!  If you only use internal data, and only use numbers/metrics…you aren’t giving ALL the information – in fact you aren’t giving information at all, you’re giving data.  To provide all the information you need to include interpretation, external data and opinion, and also qualitative views on the “story behind the data”.  Ask us for our “hierarchy of information” if you want more tips on how to improve in this area
  3. Giving dissenting voices the floor.  Another one that’s about facilitation and project management, a lot like point 1!
  4. Reviewing the business case thoroughly even though senior executives were strongly in favor.  As well as facilitation and project management skills, think about the level of the organization at which you are working.  Are the people you are talking to and working with on workforce decisions senior enough that questioning a case for which a senior executive is in favor?  You need to be!
  5. Ensuring that truly innovative ideas reached senior managers.  Seems like an obvious one you can help by making sure that your project team has the best mix of resources…but it’s also a wider cultural question.  How does your organization fit on this one?
That wasn’t too hard – a good workforce planning process that mixes the quantitative and qualitative, and that is led by someone focused on being a great workforce planner will solve those!  Next….how to leverage better TARGETS when making good workforce decisions.