An Article in the UK Telegraph caught my attention this morning.
In an article Barclays libor scandal:lock them up Jeremy Warner writes “
Virtually all financial scandals follow the same pattern. First there is the initial exposure of wrong doing, then comes the mitigating claim that it was common practice and everyone was up to it, and finally it emerges that the regulators knew all along but failed to act.
This is a flowchart, but what this article clearly shows is that there is a problem with mind-sets in the Banking world.
Corporate culture i.e the way we intuitively do things is regarded as one of the 3 main culprits in Reputation Risk. By now, it should be obvious that there is a mind-set of greed and taking chances in the Banking world.
It is also well known that Reputation Risk is created by regulatory failures. Hence the importance of Compliance Officers in the New World.
However, what the Competition Commission in South Africa has revealed is that often it is the prevailing level of thinking that causes problems and issues. AND, some of that thinking occurs intuitively. With other words, it has been ingrained in some.
Immediately what comes up in my head is the Cycle of Learning. Moving from Unconscious incompetence right through to Unconscious Competence. Except that Unconscious Competence is the most dangerous stage of learning.
Overcoming this will take a lot of unlearning.
It should also be rather obvious that some serious work needs to be done in the Financial sector by OD (Organisation Development/Organizational Behavior ) experts to create unlearning.
Jeremy Warner ends of the article with a statement – “If this were a pharmaceutical company, it would by now have been stripped of its licenses, closed down and its officials had up for endangering the public”
I fully concur. Years ago someone joked and said: “ Bankers are manicured pawnbrokers”.
Well, it is time that we are no longer pawns. As consumers we have choice. BUT, what happens if an industry can no longer be trusted.
This is the danger that regulators are underestimating.
It is essential that new entrepreneurs analyse and think through every conceivable aspect of their proposed business idea.
Doing a Business plan has a number of distinct advantages:
- You will develop a holistic understanding of how the business operates;
- You will clearly understand what viability, profitability, break-even, customer satisfaction and cost improvement means,
- The compilation of a Business Plan will develop your conceptual, creative, analytical, problem solving and decision making skills.
- Lack of planning is the one “management failure” singled out by Business development corporations and experts worldwide.
- Drawing up a Business Plan (giving due thought to the process) is a tool just as a pilot will use a pre-flight inspection checklist or as PR professionals will use conference checklists.
- Compiling a Business Plan is an exercise that will necessitate getting involved in all aspects of the Business.
- As an employee the business planning process will help you develop, because it will give you practice in thinking about competitive conditions, and how you will market the business.
Putting your plans on paper will involve many processes.This is very important for the following reasons:
- It forces you to research every conceivable area in your business
- It forces you to arrange your thoughts in a logical order
- It forces you to think through every eventuality before it occurs
- It will become your guiding action plan in running your business or implementing your idea
- It provides a platform through which you can sell your ideas to others.
To draw up a Business Plan is not that complicated, all it will require is time, patience and effort.
By doing the research yourself you will learn a lot of interesting things about yourself, your company and the proposed plans. But the knowledge and skills gained will pay off in the long run.
Whilst compiling your plan please bear in mind that anything you leave out of the picture will create an additional cost, or drain on your money, when it crops up later on. If you leave out or ignore certain items, your business is headed for disaster. It is simple – Be thorough. It is in your own interest.
During the 80’s and early 90’s I was a Senior Business Adviser and training specialist working for the then Small Business Development Corporation. The following list of tips is what I used to share with course delegates. It is based on my experience in analysing 1000’s of business plans.
SOME HINTS TO REMEMBER WHEN COMPILING A BUSINESS PLAN
- Always write with the proposed writer/evaluator in mind – Minimise industry specific language and jargon. Avoid highly technical descriptions of your products, processes, and operations. Use layman’s terms.
- Always ensure that your Business Plan is of a good appearance – First impressions are often lasting impressions.
- Base your Business Plan on irrefutable facts or evidence as far as possible.
- Some form of practical, do it yourself research is always better than just relying on old information.
- (See No.3 above). Spend plenty of time on market analysis. There is a school of thought that says: First get clients, then design the business around them.
- Spend time doing the financials, especially cash flow planning. At the end of the day it is cash that pays accounts, not profits which could be on paper. The need to forecast cash flow requirements is to set targets, encourage you to correctly estimate your working capital requirements (Many businesses fail due to running out of cash) and enable you to arrange financial assistance well in advance (Bankers are people that will lend you money only when you don’t need it – So show them you are organised).
- Test your ideas by asking a neutral outsider to for his/her opinion.
- Spend more time planning than regretting it later on.
- Outline every conceivable aspect of your proposed idea or venture. Remember it is often the small things that make a difference. “ You can sit on top of a mountain, but not a pin”.
- Design your business and plan from your customer’s viewpoint. This will ensure a customer service approach from the start.
- Substantiate. Substantiate. Beware assumptions.
- Always use supporting documentation such as media cuttings, letters of commendation to show the evaluator that your plan has merit.
- A business plan is a “living” document. It is not set in concrete.
- Update it as your knowledge grows and whenever your strategies become more concrete.
- Be realistic–base your projections on the results gathered from your analysis. Be honest about positive and negative findings.
- You may have two sets of business plans–one internal, one external. To be an effective management tool internal business plans usually are more detailed than those presented externally.
- After completing your plan, ask yourself the question “Will I be prepared to lend finance or effort based on this proposal”?
An article in the Business Day today states that MORE than 200 directors and executives of JSE-listed companies believe Standard Bank’s Jacko Maree is the most trusted CEO of a listed company, according to results of a recent survey on corporate reputation management.
The annual Trust Barometer study by Ask Africa draws a link between strong leadership qualities of the head of a company and its ability to attract talent, customers and investors.
What better way to have your performance and behaviour measured than by your peers in a transparent manner? (This a good example of a 360 degree feedback survey and its value).
The annual Trust Barometer study by Ask Africa draws a link between strong leadership qualities of the head of a company and its ability to attract talent, customers and investors. The Trust Barometer is a corporate reputation benchmark survey that ranks listed and non listed companies across a range of reputation drivers such as innovation, leadership and social responsibility.
“The link between reputation, trust and CEOs are clear, considering that winning companies have winning CEOs and executives,” it says. The study says leadership** is the strongest driver of reputation , and that the responsibility for leadership rests on the shoulders of the CEO, “making his role crucial to the trust and reputation of a company”.
But Ask Africa director Sarina de Beer says reputation management in many companies is not being taken seriously at either board or management level.
Companies only seem to spring into action when their reputation is under threat from a crisis, such as a strike . Management of corporate brand reputation is a distinct management and operational imperative, she says. She faults some listed companies for having a narrow view of who their stakeholders are, limiting them to shareholders and customers.
Read the full article at: http://www.bday.co.za/Articles/Content.aspx?id=80578
It is always good when great minds think alike. In my newsletter Powerlines 87 which I sent out yesterday, I made similar observations about the lack of proactive reputation management by corporates.
It is also intriguing that so many executives profess that they understand stakeholders, until they attend my Stakeholder Reputation Master Classes. So often they come to me afterwards and say, we never knew it was this important and complicated.
Reputation is derived from the way an organisation is perceived by it’s stakeholders and how they measure the institution’s performance and behaviour. Standard Bank, by the way have done a lot of work in this area. They have a dedicated Stakeholder Management unit influencing this process.
Well done to Mr Maree. May your example resonate!
**Footnote – It is interesting that the study shows that Leadership is the strongest driver of reputation, yet few companies have Reputation & Stakeholder Management as a subject on their annual Leadership & Management Development agendas. Makes you think, doesn’t it? (Excuse the pun)
Karl Marx had a point.
In his book, Das Kapital he wrote in 1867 and I quote:
"Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalized, and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism".
Makes you think, doesn’t it!