Leading when only the unpredictable seems predictable

Any thoughts that we were moving away from a period of high risk and uncertainty in UK business vanished once it became clear that the snap election had delivered the UK a hung parliament. The existing uncertainty around Brexit and the economy in general has undoubtedly increased.

???????????????????????Furthermore, the current causes of high risk and uncertainty are not only political. Technology is also having a major impact on businesses whether through new entrants’ lean technologically-driven business models; growing online retail sales; opportunities provided by Big Data and artificial intelligence or the threats from cyber attacks. In addition, trust in business has not fully recovered since the financial crisis and with 24/7 communications, including social media, reputational damage following a crisis is likely to be more swift and potentially more severe than in years past. BA will attest to that. (more…)

The future board is a very different animal. NEDs should take action now.

Business is going through a period of huge change and uncertainty.

As advances in technology remove barriers to entry on a previously unseen scale, business models are disrupted and ‘old’ sources of competitive advantage displaced, many feel that we are still in the fairly early stages of ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

In addition, global warming is already affecting many businesses, particularly those in the energy, manufacturing and insurance sectors, whilst recent political developments, especially in the UK and USA, have shown a growing distrust of business and its leaders and there is also concern at the economic shift eastwards. And all of this easily and instantaneously brought to the fore with the relentless ‘24/7’ world of social media and other communications channels. (more…)

Diversity on Boards – Beyond Gender

A modern company needs a modern board—one that mirrors its workforce and customer base. Companies still fall short of this ideal but their stakeholders, including investors, will increasingly expect to see a shift.

Progress towards greater gender diversity on boards is happening but change has been slow. My colleague, Marianne Sandén Ljungberg, is the CEO of Mazars’ operations in Sweden and leads Mazars Group’s thinking on diversity. She acknowledges the power of established, male-dominant board structures but sees their influence being eroded. She sees more women are being appointed to be CEOs which creates the opportunity for more people to assume senior positions at board level. (more…)

Board Culture: When Soft is Hard

In the blog, “Culture is King”, I introduced the concept of an “Engaged Board” where a healthy board culture contributes to high level of both challenge and support in the boardroom.

Achieving an appropriate blend of formal structures and processes that will contribute to a healthy board culture is perhaps the area most frequently discussed in governance codes. They help ensure the right issues are on the agenda at the right time with the right information available for discussion and decision-making.

(more…)

What are the broader lessons of the collapse of Kids Company?

A great deal has been said and written about the failure of Kids Company, including a very negative documentary on prime-time television. What can we learn about the failing of a vibrant and passionate organisation, working with young people in the most challenging and vulnerable circumstances? (more…)

Culture is King

When corporates fail, it’s not generally because they have no governance structure, procedures or internal controls. What’s often lacking is the right culture – a culture of challenge, accountability, independence and openness.

Culture is King. It always has been but the recent global downturn and the string of high profile corporate blunders mean that organisational culture has never needed to be in sharper focus. And it’s board culture that should set the tone from the top and drive the culture in the rest of the organisation. (more…)