How do you make sense of your organisation so you can make the best decisions?

Mike Roe, CEO, Footdown

In order to thrive in a highly competitive market, leaders have to quickly make sense of an intricate, uncertain economic landscape, an equally unpredictable political scene, complex legal framework, skills shortages and increasingly demanding customers on a regular basis.

Furthermore, all these aspects multiply exponentially when the corporation has branches in different geographies.

So how can leaders truly understand how all these factors are impacting their companies and make contextually appropriate decisions that would help their organisations grow and stay ahead of the competition?

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Today’s leaders have many sophisticated tools that help them understand market conditions and business landscapes but many forget that great products and services also need driven, inspired employees that support organisational development.

And while understanding the economic landscape, potential opportunities and threats is of paramount importance,a company can’t fully explore all these opportunities without clear intelligence regarding its internal strengths and areas that need improving.

How can a company reach its full potential if it doesn’t understand its internal environment?

The answer is – it can’t.

A potential solution that can help leaders to achieve a 360 degree view of both the organisation and its surroundings is organisational sensemaking -a process that has been studied by scientists for decades with the intention of enabling organisations to better understand how information is dealt with by leaders in fast moving complex environments so that they will be enabled to make better decisions and manage novel, unexpected or confusing events.

In the past, understanding how different layers such as company culture, processes and structures interacted and intertwined was a resource intensive and time consuming process.

Nowadays, business leaders and HR directors can choose from a variety of cost effective digital tools and diagnostic platforms for organisational sensemaking. These can connect with employees on an unprecedented scale and assess capabilities, resources and dysfunctions in a matter of minutes.

Cutting guesswork to spur growth

By asking the right questions, senior executives are able to cut the guesswork and rely on uncompromised data that can truly show what is happening in their organisation and what issues need to be addressed for the company to leverage the full potential of its human assets, products/services and market opportunities.

Regardless of the chosen technology, leaders must ensure that employees feel secure when they provide insight and feedback. Confidentiality and anonymity are key.

In this way, employees will reveal their honest views and not what they think would be safe to share with their superiors or colleagues.

No one understands a company better than its own employees. They can be a priceless source of strategic insight and means of identifying potential dysfunctions that could be holding the organisation back.

With smart, fast-tracked insights provided by these diagnostic platforms business executives can convert complex organisational activity into simple understanding, reduce ambiguity and make data-driven decisions that mitigate risks and spur growth.

Furthermore, by actively involving employees and making them feel like their voices and opinions matter, senior leaders can rally the entire organisation behind a proposed development strategy. Additionally, employees that feel valued are highly loyal to their employers and tend to stay with the same organisation for a longerperiod of time. This,of course, reduces staff turnover and enables the company not only to cultivate great talent but also decreases its recruitment and training costs.

A critical aspect of organisational sensemaking is that it’s a continuous process. Leaders need to constantly stay on top of any potential issues and understand how each decision is impacting the organisation and what adjustments are necessary to stay on track towards success.

Each company is a unique ecosystem that confronts and manages a particular set of challenges every day. Organisational sensemaking is not a panacea for all these challenges but business leaders should keep in mind that they can’t improve organisational performance or plan for the future until theyclearly ascertain the state of affairs in their organisation and areas that need improving.

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