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By: Murad Salman Mirza

Academic institutions worldwide are scrambling to find effective survivability and sustainability options as they strive to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving educational landscape reeling from the profound impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Consequently, leaders within such organizations are increasingly burdened with stark choices that beckon tough decision-making with a strong probability of negative reverberations among the apprehensive workforces.

The key success factor in the respective context is to assure/ensure that the quality of decision-making is not egregiously compromised as the pressure increases to maintain the semblance of a ‘going concern’ for nervous stakeholders.  Consequently, it is incumbent upon the leaders to astutely realize the existing and emergent challenges that are liable to impact all the crucial aspects of organizational functionality and chart a principled approach to decision-making that increases the probability of yielding desired outcomes in a post-COVID world.  Some of the multidimensional humanistic challenges are as follows:

  1. Retaining/maintaining a motivated and capable workforce to facilitate the fulfilment of the strategic and operational goals of the organization
  2. Upskilling/reskilling the workforce for the evolving nature of work
  3. Conducting effective and meaningful orientations for the new employees, especially in a hybrid work environment
  4. Stimulating relationship building/sustainability initiatives with the workforce, especially those with open/hidden ‘grievances’ and ‘trust’ issues
  5. Reinforcing/revitalizing succession management strategies/plans, talent pipelines, and prudent management practices
  6. Invigorating high engagement levels within a multigenerational workforce
  7. Maintaining/sharpening focus on Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Equity (DIBE) initiatives
  8. Managing health and wellbeing aspects with increased priority, e.g., fatigue resulting from excessive screen time, fear of losing the job compounded by feelings of inadequacy, career derailment, suppressing the rumour mill, disciplinary issues, organizational politics, family pressures, separation anxiety for ex-pats from their loved ones, too much time to oneself, etc.
  9. Maintaining/uplifting a value-driven corporate culture to assure/ensure organizational cohesion
  10. Monitoring and rectifying fractures in employment relationships, especially between supervisors and their team members
  11. Providing effective online and offline organizational support, .e.g. HR services, to a multigenerational workforce performing duties/responsibilities in multiple locations
  12. Strategizing bonding/re-bonding activities between the workforce and leadership, especially with respect to strengthening psychological contracts
  13. Realizing workforce deployment and optimization with respect to the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, e.g., better utilization of office spaces, effective utilization of available resources, increasing efficiency through synergistic partnerships between the human workforce and the AI-driven technologies, raising the standards of employment, etc.
  14. Making prudent choices in the acquisition of relevant/new technologies while phasing out the insufficient/obsolete ones
  15. Revising and updating policies/procedures/processes with respect to various HR services, e.g., revamping the structure of Total Rewards according to the ‘new normal, increasing the percentage of online training for a hybrid workforce, etc.
  16. Designing/defining/enhancing ‘employee experience’, especially for those working from home and supporting/facilitating/enabling it with suitable policies/processes/procedures
  17. Devising transparent and judicious accountability/performance standards in a hybrid work environment that are imbued with the ‘felt-fairness’ element
  18. Developing and strengthening risk management plans in coordination with relevant functions to be proactively prepared for future challenges, e.g., sound strategies and harmonized action plans for optimized workforce deployment during the next pandemic
  19. Enhancing organizational agility that is congruent with strategic imperatives to timely overcome anticipated/unanticipated challenges
  20. Sustaining an attractive employer brand for future talent acquisition, cherished academic standing, and meaningful altruistic initiatives
  21. Walking the fine line between the applicable labour laws and organizational imperatives for survivability and sustainability
  22. Assuring/ensuring the consistent infusion of new talent by leveraging suitable technology in coordination with the functional heads
  23. Providing a seamless exit experience for employees leaving the organization with minimal damage to the employer brand
  24. Getting employees comfortable with the ‘new’ normal
  25. Finding/allocating enough time and space for self-reflection and self-calibration to stay motivated and committed while resisting the apprehensions/pressures related to personal job insecurity

The aforementioned challenges require leaders that are suitably prepped for the Digital Age (see: in terms of taking quality decisions.  Let’s review the three main types of decisions that are generally taken by organizational leaders, i.e.:

Wrong decisions

These are the erroneous decisions that are driven by bias, malevolence, sabotage, incompetence, risk-averseness, and/or unavailability of crucial facts.  Such decisions are the result of compromising on foresight/objectivity by succumbing to the perils of uncertainty.  Their impact/ramification frequently requires salvation through the benefit of hindsight by engaging in an honest reflection and calibration on a personal and professional level for enhancing the quality of decision-making in the future.

Right decisions

These are the correct decisions that are based upon an impartial and competent weighing of available facts, studious consultation and judgmental prowess by employing suitable risk assessment methodologies/approaches.  Such decisions are the result of harnessing foresight/objectivity by deploying ‘thriving in chaos’ principles for optimizing outcomes in uncertainty.  Their impact/ramification provides a fertile ground for reinforcement of good practices and is a valuable addition to the ‘knowledge bank’ for grooming the next generation of leaders.

Sound decisions

These are the astute decisions that are rooted in ground-based reality with a profound understanding of inherent risk management capability and make sense in the prevailing circumstances by extracting/filtering the best option from a range of available options that can be materialized within available resources.  Such decisions embrace foresight/objectivity by realizing the ‘uncertainty’ of uncertainty and favour rationality in justifying a chosen course of action that is rich in practicality.  Their impact/ramification may eventually be deemed right or wrong based upon evolving circumstances with the benefit of hindsight.

The following ‘DISH’ framework can be used by the organizational leaders to enhance the quality of decision-making in a post-COVID world:


This refers to having an unclouded/unrestricted/unbiased embrace of the available data and information from reliable/curated sources that can lead to enhancing the quality of decision-making.


This refers to increasing the level of cognizance in terms of associated risks with the available options before arriving at a ‘sound’ decision for overcoming an existing or emerging challenge.


This refers to prioritizing the ease of steps involved in the materialization of the ‘selected’ option for charting a course of action with clear accountabilities and realizable timelines.


This refers to modelling the personality traits that will create a strong ‘buy-in’ from the stakeholders who have to act upon and/or are impacted by the decision that has been taken.

The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially amplified the demand on organizational leaders in terms of increasing the quality of their decision-making due to the rapid evaporation of any buffers/cushions to safeguard against any lapses in judgment.  Resilience is now directly proportional to survival in terms of personal and organizational futures.  Are you the ‘right’ leader for the times?

Murad Salman Mirza is an innovative thinker and an astute practitioner in areas within and associated with the fields of Organizational Development, Talent Management and Business Transformation. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at: