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“HR, Tear Down Those Walls”… and Increase Decision-Making Speed By 45%
Posted By Dr. John Sullivan On July 9, 2012 @ 5:56 am In Advice and How-Tos | No Comments
Imagine proposing to your CEO that you could improve the speed of organizational decision-making by 45% and do it within a few months. Your CEO would undoubtedly be shocked that such a major improvement was possible in this critical business impact area, but I assure you that they would want to hear more about your solution.
This is because slow decision-making can have millions of dollars of negative business impacts, including missed business opportunities, slower product time-to-market, increased project costs, and losing the first-entry competitive advantage. Fast decision-making is especially important in the area of talent management because slow decision-making will severely frustrate your innovative and creative employees, and this frustration might lead to serious problems in motivation, innovation, recruiting, retention, and your employer brand image.
If you’re a strategic HR person, you already know that there are three major outputs or results that HR can produce. They are:
In this article, I am focusing on the third output factor: decision-making. Organizational decision-making speed is the average number of weeks that it takes to make major decisions (i.e. $1 million dollars or above). Speedy decisions are important because rapid decision-making (often with imperfect information) is a key differentiator between agile firms and bureaucratic ones. Although HR leaders are aware of the need to improve decision-making speed, in most organizations, there has literally been no one in HR who is formally in charge of tracking and then improving decision-making. To make matters worse, decision-making is a complex area and there have been no available quick, easy, and effective solutions to improving decision-making speed. At least up until now.
I’ve been researching and writing for years about the impact of physical space on productivity, collaboration, and innovation. I recently completed a major piece on “the death of the cubicle .” If you’re not familiar with it, an open space work environment is designed to maximize interaction, energy, and cross functional collaboration. It does that by eliminating almost all offices, cubicles, and barriers between employees who work in an office-type setting. Up until now, the available data from “next practice” firms like Google has shown that an open space environment has a dramatic and measurable impact on collaboration and thus innovation. But now, additional metrics from the global healthcare leader GlaxoSmithKline  has added to the available hard data supporting the value of open space office design. It found that:
If you decide to take action to improve the impact of your physical workplace design, here are some steps that you should consider.
Living in the Silicon Valley, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with and research truly great high-tech companies like Google, Apple, or Facebook. When you advise these industry-dominating firms, you become accustomed to dramatic results in the area of people management. But when I discover a 45% increase in any people management area, even I am shocked and pleasantly surprised, and even more so in this case because the dramatic improvement is in such a difficult area to impact like decision-making. To make the results even more impressive, they came from a global healthcare firm, rather than a Silicon Valley high-tech firm.
I understand why busy HR and talent management leaders don’t jump at every opportunity to improve people-management, but you simply have to make time to look into any solution that has the potential for improving decision-making speed by 45%. No matter what industry or the size of your firm, the time to act is now.
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URLs in this post:
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 the death of the cubicle: http://www.ere.net/2012/05/21/the-death-of-the-cubicle-and-the-killers-are-collaboration-and-innovation/
 additional metrics from the global healthcare leader GlaxoSmithKline: http://www.forbes.com/sites/frederickallen/2012/06/27/inside-the-new-deskless-office/#comment_reply
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