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Part 2 – Is your Workday Environment Balanced, Contextual, and Systems-Oriented?

Part 2 – Is your Workday Environment Balanced, Contextual, and Systems-Oriented?

Is your Workday tenant set-up to listen to the insights your data is telling you and incorporate it into core business processes?

That is the question I posed in Part 1 where I discussed how the pressures of moving can cause people to lose the tools to fully take advantage of their Workday system.

One framework for moving forward is to use an approach of Balanced and Contextual Systems Thinking (although the synthesis/application of this framework is my own, I take no small amount of inspiration from the work of practitioners like Donella Meadows and the professors/curriculum of Presidio Graduate School).

But what does it mean to configure your system to listen with balance?

Is your system listening with balance?

It is a balance of two parts: first, is your system balancing the short and long term?

This balance must be struck throughout countless Workday decisions – will adapting Workday to fit a legacy process (such as a unique bonus calculation or a custom object to capture information that the legacy system stored natively), cause more maintenance headaches down the line?

Is the short-term payoff – happy executives and short-term alignment with old structures – worth the long-term impacts?

Or is it better to rip off the band-aid and implement new, standardized processes that optimize Workday’s strengths despite short-term disruption?

A successful strategy sees both paths, before intentionally picking one and walking down it.

But what is the overall goal, where are you walking towards?

For in addition to temporal balance, companies must also balance the needs of their people, their planet, and their profit.

If the well-being of an organization’s community, ecosystem, or economy are not addressed, then there are missed opportunities and a failure to identify and mitigate risks.

Reputational risk, legal risk, operational risk can come from each of the three areas – just like opportunities in thought leadership, innovation, and partnerships can come out of the three areas. It’s why governing bodies like the European Commission now require large companies to report on non-financial impacts to be listed on stock markets – people, planets, and profits matter to business success.

Workday can assist with the tracking of these metrics and with incorporating this data into core business processes, like performance reviews, compensation review processes, internal/external stakeholder engagement, and more.

Is your system listening contextually?

Is it balancing the needs of its stakeholders with a recognition of relevant internal and external factors?

Perhaps the legacy process you want to bulldoze in favor of “optimizing” some shiny new HRIS system was in fact created by your founder and is critical to your organization’s very business model and culture.

Perhaps the HR department has been lobbying to change the legacy process for years.

The context of a decision dramatically impacts the result.

A balance that makes sense for the marketing department may not make sense for operations

A manufacturer may have a completely different configuration than a retailer.

A recognition of the boundaries of the system in question (ex. is this decision being made within the context of one team, of a department, of the whole organization, of the whole industry) and the material variables at play is critical for making decisions that are strategic instead of unfocused.

Is your system systemically self-aware?

Does it recognize the layers of overlapping and embedded systems it resides in?

Your HRIS system lives within your HR department, which exists within your company, that operates within an industry.

An understanding of the variables within each system’s layer – and the corresponding relationships/feedback loops – helps to recognize that if I pull this lever, the desired result will happen.

If I change this process, will I have achieved the efficiency that I want, or will Payroll be outside my door with torches and pitchforks? Will an integration careen off its tracks?

Understanding the broader system not only helps to avoid unpleasant situations, but it can also identify reinforcing loops that generate social, environmental and/or economic value.

Loops of value creation like: more effective data analysis leads to better sales people through more persuasive narratives, which generates more leads, which increases clients attained, which generates profits, which leads to more money for data analysis, which creates more informed plant managers, which reduces energy use, which increases profits, which leads to more money for data analysis, which leads to a better finance department, which leads to better projections, which leads to more profit…

Now no one report, or HRIS system, can necessarily fill all those needs and kick off all those processes. The above example also omits the environmental and social considerations. But if your business systems and data strategy are not part of any positive feedback loops, or in any controlling feedback loops to increase accountability and stability, then what are those systems doing in your business?

What matters is intention.

The intention to balance people, planet, and profit over the short and long term, within the relevant context, and moving forward with the perspective of the holistic system.

It is how better Workday decisions are made – such as a recruiting dashboard that identifies bias in your hiring practices, or a merit process that tracks and alleviates pay inequity.

Those are Kognitiv systems.


  • Luke Jandl

    Luke is a Workday consultant with 5 years of experience, specializing in HCM, Advanced Compensation, BIRT, Reporting and Data Conversion.

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