We see the varnish from the old oil painting of government, enterprise, business and leadership fade a bit every day. 2020 has already shown us how interconnected our world has become – a true Butterfly Effect. Interconnectivity is not a bad thing. It is the fragility, the brittleness of modern economies that is cause for concern. I believe this is a result of critical imbalances we have allowed to build up, without questioning. Now as the varnish from the old oil painting comes off, we have a once in a decade opportunity to reset and tackle these imbalances. To make bold brush strokes.
Where can we start?
Big Government or Small?
Do we need a Big Government or Small? The term ‘Big Government’ here is not intended to be derogatory. We see national priorities and decisions that don’t match that of the city, the village, or the council. Great plans and budgets that don’t translate into change on the ground. Equally, in the face of this crisis, we see barriers breaking down. A C-19 COVID Symptom tracker app, which each of us can use, allows a judicious allocation of scarce testing and treatment resources at a national and grassroot level. The opportunity is to examine the flow from the national to the level of council. Provide transparency and allow engagement. If it doesn’t exist it should be created. Direct channels for us citizens to highlight problems, propose solutions, be data-driven and monitor implementation. It is not a question of a big government versus small. It is one that works transparently that matters.
Public or Private Sector Enterprise?
A key debate going into 2020 was about which sector provides a better service, is more efficient with resources – private or public sector enterprise? Think about the NHS, Transport, Energy, Manufacturing, Financial Services, Agriculture, Technology and Utilities. Healthy arguments and examples are cited to show the merits of both public and private sector. I believe the public-private argument completely misses the point. Whether an enterprise provides a good service or poor, spends judiciously or not is not down to public or private sector. It is down to some key principles – how it is governed, how accountable is its team and partners, does it know what good service looks like and is it equipped to provide these services. Enterprises can be funded by either public or private sector resources. The opportunity ahead is in data and tech enabled service delivery models, going digital. And public-private collaboration funding models can ignite innovation and value added services. The key to provide good service is not public or private sector, it is to provide a good service!
Role of Business
Businesses are standing out in two ways in these times. Those that care about their employees and partners and are doing their bit to help their communities and those that pretend to. People will remember businesses that care. Those that don’t, will fall out of favour. That most of our essential “front line” staff in the face of a pandemic are paid low/ minimum wages is cowardly. It shows the scale of imbalances we have allowed to build up and seem to be comfortable with. Colleagues in maintenance, cleaning, nursing, restaurant, retail, agriculture, driving, security, manufacturing and teaching professions amongst others need to be compensated fairly. The opportunity here is to go after skewed compensation models, unviable business models and poor productivity with vigour. The tax structures reportedly exploited by big tech and conglomerates are ripe for reform and become principle driven. Likewise business owners having billions and calling for government bailouts or larger profitable companies using furlough schemes to offload their responsibilities to the public should face the consequence. This is a failure of law and the will of successive governments. Let us get it right this time. Bashing businesses and entrepreneurs is not the answer. They are born from the risk-reward equation and are the lifeblood of any economy.
Lessons in Leadership
As much as it is tempting to draw leadership lessons from the current pandemic, they are unique to the situation and not a one size fits all. But I find the war analogy somewhat flawed. The chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak said “we will be judged by our capacity for compassion and individual acts of kindness” – does that sound like a war? If anything, the lesson for future leaders is to be that much more focused on ensuring their team’s wellbeing, ensuring they are equipped with relevant resources. Good leaders will understand the importance of the informal and the invisible stuff – collaboration, unconventional thinking, meaningful conversations and problem solving over formal organisation structures. The world we have to navigate in is increasingly unpredictable and non-linear, command and control team structures and top-down change will not work.
Everyday we are seeing concrete examples of what is working in business, government and leadership and what is not. We can allow 2020 to be one mired in tragedy, lost lives, lost livelihoods and failed businesses or we can seize the once in a decade opportunity to reset and create the government, the enterprise, the business and leaders that we want and have lacked for some time. This is within reach.
What steps do you think will help create better business, government and leaders?
Please feel free to comment and share. Keep well!
Leading Point Financial Markets
Change leader with over 20 years’ experience in helping financial markets with their toughest business challenges in data, operating model transformation in sales, CRM, Ops, Data, Finance & MI functions, and delivery of complex compliance, front-to-back technology implementations. Significant line experience. Former partner in management consulting leading client solution development, delivery and P&L incl. Accenture. Specialities – Operating Models, Data Assets, Compliance, Technology Partnerships & Solutions in Capital Markets, Market Infrastructure, Buy-Side, Banking & Insurance.
“2020 has already shown us how interconnected our world has become – a true Butterfly Effect.”
“It is not a question of a big government versus small. It is one that works transparently that matters.”
“Businesses are standing out in two ways in these times. Those that care about their employees and partners and are doing their bit to help their communities and those that pretend to.”
“We can allow 2020 to be one mired in tragedy, lost lives, lost livelihoods and failed businesses or we can seize the once in a decade opportunity to reset and create the government, the enterprise, the business and leaders that we want and have lacked for some time”