Learn to Make Decisions and to Build Metrics That Positively Affect People’s Health

Did you know that workplace stress is recognized as a key contributor in 75% to 90% of all visits to primary-care doctors?

When workplace stress lasts for days or weeks, you can develop stomach disorders, back pain, and headaches. You can also suffer from loss of sleep, reduced energy, and emotional distress. In the long term, this stress can even lead to heart disease.

That is why company strategy should consider improving people’s health, which can be achieved by supporting the right kind of structures and processes.

Good organizational health enhances people’s health and the company’s outcomes. Modern companies should constantly look at increasing organizational health and ensuring that it is sustainable.

This is particularly important when you or your teams are creating new metrics or frameworks for making decisions, because these can result in undesired behaviors.

During part of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military decided to measure combat effectiveness and progress by evaluating the number of enemy bodies. That led field commanders to become obsessed with getting the numbers up. As a result, American troops had an incentive to kill unarmed civilians to improve the outcomes.

This is an extreme example, but it shows that inappropriate decisions can attract the wrong outcomes.

In companies where organizational health decays, the perception of reality also deteriorates. We start perceiving events and situations as either physically or psychologically threatening (psychologists generally call these “stressors”).

Stressors increase amygdala activation and levels of cortisol in the body. This escalates interpersonal conflict, prevents people from doing great work and delivering business value, decreases innovation, and stymies the evolution of processes and emerging mindsets.

Situations such as these often result from poor visibility, inappropriate decisions, or the wrong metrics.

You can use the following questions and framework to validate decisions and create great metrics.

  1. Can this <metric/decision> be replaced by any other alternative (for example, a simple conversation between parties, automation, artificial intelligence, etc.)?
  2. Does the <metric/decision> help the people doing the work to evolve their processes and mindsets?
  3. How does this <metric/decision> increase organizational health across all people working on the product/service (value stream)?
  4. How can this <metric/decision> help verify that the current strategy is still valid?

Finally, it is always advisable to ask the golden question: How do you know if you don’t need the <metric/decision> anymore?

If you do not ask the additional question, then you could risk increasing the complexity of your organization as a result of expanding the number of procedures, validations, and bureaucracy.

The following four steps can help you make better decisions and build healthier metrics.

 

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If you want to learn more about how to increase organizational health and business agility, take a look at my latest book, Leading Exponential Change?
Thanks for listening,
Erich.

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