I agree with you Zahid and everyone that this is a very timely intervention. The message and the intentions are absolutely spot on.
Two immediate thoughts – which build on Caroline’s very insightful point around realism. And the need for step-change. Not everything can or will happen in one or two – or even three - business planning cycles – so the reality is to work with business to see what practical year-on-year solutions can be found to all the challenges raised by the B Team.
My first thought is around how to use the few to move the many to deliver change. The Plan B Team members are fantastic role models. They appear the most often on forums and in different guises. They are the most vocal. Not surprisingly they get the most air time. They are, however, the Few. We could argue that on a bell curve of business leaders, they are at one extreme – the positive end. They are the ‘early adopters’. The challenge is reaching the main part of the leadership bell curve and the ‘early’ and ‘late majority’.
My second thought is about the risk of generalities – in particular around the terms “business” and “business leaders”. It implies all leaders are one genotype and all business sectors one big homogeneous species sharing the same attributes and features and capable of evolving at the same time and same pace. That is not the reality.
‘Business’ is a very heterogeneous species – differentiated by sectors, markets, cultures, life cycles, heritages and its stakeholders. Each sector and company is very different. We have companies that have been around for over hundred years, others who are few years old. There are some very long established sectors, others relatively new. We have very different types of organizational cultures and leadership styles. We have different sizes and models of companies. Some companies operate in very liberal regulatory and political environments; others do not. And so on.
Whilst it is important to debate upstream about the overall role of business in society and about the paramountcy of responsible behavior, it is equally important to acknowledge the variety we see downstream in different sectors, companies and in business leaders in the way they individually and collectively respond to change. It is a fact that evolution is happening at a different pace and even in different directions. A realistic approach to change has to recognize this. Any new Charter will have to respect and recognise the diversity that exists in business and avoid the pitfalls that come with one-size-fits-all thinking.
So my questions are around the ‘how’:
How will the Few (Plan B team) work with the Many to deliver the new business paradigms? .
Is there any research done which shows how business leaders influence each other – which could be used here? If you like, what kinds of ‘transmission’ (viral) mechanisms can be put in place to reach the majority?
What kinds of peer-to-peer and sector -to-sector connections need to be put into place to leverage the diversity that exists in the business world? Is there any merit in taking a differentiated approach – akin to market or customer segmentation - to help business manage change realistically?