In earlier research Berenschot suggests the following five perspectives for rethinking strategy issues at boardroom level:
There’s a tendency to take a one-dimensional approach, looking for solutions in only one expertise domain. Staff shortages? Become a more attractive employer to improve recruitment and retention. Unfortunately that strategy doesn’t work in the context of a labour pool which is drying up on all fronts. So it’s up to the boardroom to approach the issue from multiple innovation perspectives. Look, for instance, at opportunities for strategic adaptation (change direction, products, services), at social and organisational solutions (different and smarter approaches to how people work), and at technological innovation.
It’s impossible for an organisation to solve labour market shortages single-handed. The solutions lie in collaboration between businesses, education and government agencies. The involvement of multiple actors brings a broad range of expertise to the table (diversity has value) and helps foster understanding of each parties’ varying interests and needs, priorities and values. Successful collaboration depends on mutual respect for those differences.
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel on your own. Do have the courage to experiment within your specific context. Learn actively from the results and seek out knowledge from organisations that are considered front-runners. Share experience and lessons learned from good or ‘failing forward’ examples. And look beyond the borders of the Netherlands for inspiration.
Assume that staff shortages are here to stay. Take a process-oriented approach and consider how to restructure processes, jobs and tasks using Lean principles. What are the wastage points, and how can you get the same amount of work done by fewer people with satisfactory quality? What we’re looking at here is re-evaluating growth. What constitutes sufficient growth, and would shifting down a gear be all that bad?
Wicked problems are complex and the route to a solution may take you to uncharted territory. If the phased project approach with milestones is no longer fit for purpose, choose different methods like, design thinking, action research, experimentation, agile and scrum.
It’s a challenge to make this shift and rethink your perspectives on the labour market. It needs an open mindset from the board and the right support for managers and team leaders. It also takes time and vision to shape and structure the organisation. For instance, when it comes to reskilling, upskilling or deskilling employees. You’ll need to pay attention not just to hard skills but to developing soft skills. There are good reasons why the capacity to develop, change and innovate are the key skills for the future.