Purpose Driven Boards

The debris that has been left behind post the global 2008 crises is still fresh in our minds; not just the enormity and scale of destruction it left in its wake but also the unbridled greed that fueled this catastrophic event.  Off late we seem to be witnessing behaviourial patterns with some marquee silicon valley names exhibiting similar symptoms. This brings into sharp focus the role (or absence) of Board nominees, their conduct and their loyalties.

As Trustees, Boards need to exhibit a strong sense of purpose in creating enduring institutions that continuously excel in developing long term value through sustainable business decisions. It is this absence of focus on extending longevity of enterprises the principal reason for the fall in governance standards.

Instead what we witness more often than not is the institutionalised culture of the “capitalist cabal” that has left its wake serious fractures in the governance landscape.  It would appear that there is no place left for constructive criticism and group think. No one at the Board wishes to be seen as “rocking the boat”, that leads to the dangerous situation of “conspiracy of silence”.

As Lord Myners observed that Boards have become a defining post for the “Great and the Good people” – are we consciously promoting a culture of weak governance by using the ramparts of the institutional governance structure as an “ordinary parking bay”.

If proactive, corrective steps are not unleashed in a collective manner, we may well be on course to see the diminishing influence of this last bastion of corporate governance. It is time for some serious, audacious and courageous thinking to wrest back TRUST control.

What Defines Our NetWorth

Alamy Images

Alamy Images

Recently I came across an interesting post on what is our True Net Worth – is it determined by “What We Know” or “Who We Know”. There were considerable reasons stated to build a case for the latter – that our Networth is determined by our Network. It went on to state that more often than not the value of our Network is more than double the value of our Abilities (What We Know) – that in a dynamic, connected world, our true worth is determined by who we know and that is more important to build defining relationships and professional network.

I have a completely different take on this – and I hope today’s generation especially the future leaders who will define our landscape and influence our thinking / living are reading this.

Our True Worth which is an outcome of our True Potential is determined by two distinctive traits – Character & Competence. One is born with the “first” and over a period of time acquires the “second”. It is important to understand both these from a holistic context.

Our self worth and true potential gets unlocked and realized by “what we are known for”. It is this combination that ensures creation of enduring and long lasting relationships. And enduring relationships are built solely on our consistent behaviour and ability to provide meaningful solutions. It is this that creates a Circle of Trust which keeps enriching itself through multiple experiences and engagements.

So to define your True Worth – ensure your Character shines through consistently and your Competence continue to deliver relevant & meaningful inputs. It is simple to understand but challenging to execute consistently – but the journey will be “worth it”.

Purpose Led Business Architecture

Global businesses are entering a critical evolutionary phase where the next steps of Board & Leadership will have profound impact and epochal effect on how fundamentally business is conducted. Far too many storied institutions have bitten the dust through conscious bad choices made at the leadership level.

The erstwhile idea that success principles and behaviour of the past will continue to drive value in future is a sad reflection of the myopic vision that seems to have afflicted corporations across the world. It is this short term approach of business leaders that has led to complex and turbulent situations, resulting in uncertainty and volatility for enterprises. This problem needs to be addressed on war footing.

Boards & Leadership need to establish ‘Purpose led Business Architecture‘ framework to future proof business. Institutions that are at the cutting edge of leading innovation and implementing ‘Purpose Led Business Architecture’ continue to add value to stakeholders and remain at the forefront of value creation.

The Board & Leadership needs to deeply introspect and litmus test business decisions on continuous basis for delivering priceless business insights through the following questions –

  1. What steps Leadership Team is taking to establish deep linkages to its identified, defined and articulated ‘Purpose of Existence’?
  2. Is the institution’s Purpose designed to future proof itself from market complexities and uncertainties through a robust business philosophy?
  3. What is the company doing to develop / deepen / nurture Inspired Leadership through defined structure & practices at the highest levels?
  4. Is the Leadership Team focused and committed on value creation through a Purpose led Business Architecture?
  5. Is the Leadership Team getting out of its perpetual “fire fighting to survive” mode to a “qualified decision making for potential realisation” mode?
  6. How are we building long term Business Models for a more holistic, sustainable and meaningful stakeholder (not just shareholder) value?
  7. Are we consciously identifying business priorities through the lens of Purpose to ensure alignment of objectives, resources and efforts for seamless / coherent / high impact execution?

The above examination will be useful to look at a firm’s vision through its purpose of existence. It will provide deep insights into the sustainability of the strategies as also creating long term stakeholder value. It is important Leadership & Management took stock of the above and reflect upon the impact of their decisions on businesses.

This is the essence of building Vanguard Leadership and through them, creating Enduring Business Enterprises for sustainable long term value creation.