Reflections on strategy: what can a NED do to help address uncertainty?
We talk about our new reality as something that we will experience in the future but is that future already here?
The world we live in is said to be changing faster than ever before; developments in technology as highlighted in our response to COVID-19, in regulation, and our continued uncertain relationship with the EU means that many of the boundaries that once governed the way organisations do business are changing or disappearing altogether.
What is consistent is that things do not stand still. They do not remain static. So what does strategy and transformation look like in these circumstances? How should boards respond? What can a NED do to help address uncertainty? This is an interesting question to ask following the last 9 months of COVID disruption.
Depending on your school of thought, it takes between 14-60 days to form new habits. However, when we return to a familiar setting, these habits can be eroded within a matter of days and habits which have been engrained into our subconscious over decades, quickly return.
If we revert to our familiar ways of doing things we would be within our rights to ask ourselves, ‘what has this all been for’? Months of not seeing each other — our family, friends and colleagues and of watching those we care for at a distance — surely that hardship must have been for something? Yes, that hardship was in place to fight an illness that strikes indiscriminately, but surely there must be even more to show for our loss, our hardship, our suffering?
We must embrace our new realty and all that it has to offer. Our future is here. It has strengthened our resolve, and it has shown how we can thrive in the face of adversity and pull together. It continues to show how we support and help each other to succeed. There are so many wonderful stories of human compassion and societal value in what we do that we must remain positive, strong and powerful.
Helping you succeed
At BDO, the launch of our latest Values and Culture report helped to highlight what really makes us special and underpinning everything that we do at BDO is our core purpose: "helping you succeed". As Peter Drucker states, ‘the best way to predict the future is to create it’. We are creating new ways of working every day at BDO. From adoption of MS Teams, to helping our clients ‘Rethink’ their approach. We have created a new Business support hub, have developed a Flexi Force mind-set and have deployed a new Human Resource management tool across the business.
The future has always been uncertain but what has become evident and clear to us at BDO is that we have a clear united approach, underpinned by our purpose that will help us steer a path through choppy waters.
It is a board members responsibility to ask the tough questions. Those questions that help build resilience in the business model, that seek the truth even if that might be uncomfortable. Being purpose led helps to ensure that when answering those questions a board makes decisions that are authentic and build on success. When used to its full extent a purpose guides a firm’s strategy decision making. It holds it to account and it provides a clear narrative as to why a business does what it does. It provides accountability to the decisions and changes that are made.
During these times of change, rather than questioning when will things return to normal perhaps we should ask ourselves, what is the risk of not changing at all?
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Zoe Bailey, BDO Chief Strategy Officer and NED at Nelson Croom.
Chief Strategy Officer