The next horizon: three big questions for HRDs

Every day we’re gathering stories and rich insight into what’s going on across businesses as they face into this rapidly changing environment.

Last week we hosted a virtual dinner debate with some of the closest HRDs in our network. Now that we are (just maybe) coming up for air, we shared what we’re each experiencing through the crisis, and began to look further out at the next horizon.

Here are three big takeaways from the discussion.

1. How do we bottle the best things about our response to COVID-19?

We can’t live in crisis mode: people are getting tired and can’t operate at this pace sustainably.

One thing that might help is moving from a fog of uncertainty to being able to tell a phased story. Even if that story looks like Phase 1: React (safety & continuity), Phase 2: Reprioritise (focus & resilience), Phase 3: Recover (new normal), and lastly Phase 4: Reimagine (innovation & reshaping).

2. How do we start ‘triple-tracking’ and making big bets for the future?

When a crisis emerges, we usually rely on data and insight from previous occurrences to make a decision about what’s next. What happens when we’ve got no choice but to walk the unbeaten path, and how do we know which way to go?

We simply don’t know how brave to be: we need to develop a point of view and stay aware of how fast our competitors are moving.

Perhaps we need to triangulate the paths ahead of us for what’s needed now, in the midterm and long in the future.

3. How do we get the board in the right zone?

We’re seeing lots of pain around board members whose usual value (tenure/having seen it before) just doesn’t exist in this context.

How do we help them to create value and not just play an oversight role?

Perhaps one way is to ask them to help by thinking through the ambiguous problems and questions with us.

Authors: John Ainley, Chairman & Partner, The Alexander Partnership and Theo Keane, Client Development Director, businessfourzero