Monday, 1 October 2012


A key feature that we have been running from the very inception of The Human Factor is ‘HR Decisions’. As a magazine focused on human resources, we have always felt that it was important to understand what were the decisions that human resource managers thought were important to their divisions and their organisations and for the people on whom these decisions were applied. When we were researching the importance of managerial decisions in general, and HR decisions in particular, on long-term organisational outcomes, these articles and interviews turned out to be a treasure trove of information and insights. Interestingly, a fair number of these decisions had far reaching implications on organisations, but far more in number, including some that would fall in the aforementioned category, had more to do with issues close to the heart of the individual manager or leader, which may or may not have been in direct alignment with the organisational direction. This insight pushed us to delve into the process of decision-making. Were good decisions always a matter of making the right choice in the right context? Was there a science, a process or a decision tree which could point us to the right decisions? If we look at the history of organisations or even countries, it would be difficult to answer in the positive.

Some decisions that could have seemed weird at the point it was taken, may in hindsight, look momentous. Decisions that might have seemed wise and well thought out have had a strange way of turning turtle.

Before Jack Welch became synonymous with GE, he was the ultimate outsider, heaping scorn on the bureaucracy of GE headquarters, and excluded from the short list of executives chosen to succeed Reginald Jones as CEO of GE. By GE standards he was too young, too impatient, too reckless and to top it all, he stammered. And then to the horror of the old guards Reginald Jones announced Jack as the successor. Was it a great decision? Not many thought so at that time, as Jack tore up GE’s old ways and processes in his pursuit of competitiveness and became a pariah of sorts in the US world of business. It was only with the onslaught of the foreign corporations, which decimated US corporation after corporation with their lean and mean ways, did the US organisations start appreciating the wisdom of Jack’s ways. And today, whether we talk about GE or US businesses, or businesses in general, it is hard to find a book that does not talk about the ‘Jack Welch Way’. A good decision in the long term, which did not seem so great in the short term, a decision that managed to bypass what some call “the tyranny of small decisions”.

This issue should entertain you with interesting decision stories, some that have succeeded spectacularly, some that have failed miserably, but intriguing, however you look at them. We have spoken to academicians and experts, and to the decision-makers, in an effort to find a method to the decision process. As always, I hope you enjoy reading this. I look forward to your valued comments. Happy reading!

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