We live in a fast-paced world, where the only constant seems to be change itself. Messages of the latest and greatest scheme or product or idea bombard our senses daily, imploring us forward, towards "progress". Yet in some quarters change actually occurs very slowly—at glacial speeds even—despite the best intentions of enthusiastic advocates. The corporate boardroom is one such quarter.
I've been reading Making it Happen, Sir John Harvey-Jones' reflections on leadership. Harvey-Jones, a successful British businessman and industrialist, was perhaps best known for leadership of British firm ICI, culminating in his chairmanship from 1982 to 1987. His insights are timeless, because they continue to be relevant today, 26 years after they were first written. To illustrate the point, here is a selection of salient comments that Harvey-Jones made about boards in 1988:
Do any of these points sound familiar? They should do, because they still characterise the behaviours and attributes of many boards in 2014. Why have boards not embraced the same enthusiasm for change and improvement as has been demonstrated elsewhere in the business community? It's high-time boards took stock.
Thoughts on corporate purpose, strategy and governance; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.