A little story – or it is?

A little story – or it is?

A fairly big company, internationally well known and more than a little loved found itself divided. One faction of the shareholders wanted to join forces with another Very Big Conglomerate (VBC). Not quite a takeover but Close Collaboration. There were further opportunities of scale, of sharing technological development and of competing better with other giant conglomerates that were starting to dominate the world scene. Trump’s erratic and unpredictable behavior about tariffs had unnerved everyone. Another faction of shareholders, about the same size, wanted to cancel the limited collaboration there had already been and let the company make its own way in the world. Historically, they said, it has proved it could do that. Proof was not recent.

The CEO of the company was due to retire after a brief, exhausting and unsatisfactory tenure. She sought to remain on good terms with the VBC but knew that her likely successor, someone nicknamed Mighty Magnetically Magic (MMM) – a big plus for politicians of the 19th and early 20th Century varieties – would split the shareholders even more.

The retiring CEO thought how to shrewdly avoid a total break, satisfy the Keep Us Independent (KUI) shareholders and neutralise the worst impact of the MMM as future CEO. She visited all the big shareholders of the VBC and pleaded with them to give her time to pull off this admittedly tricky political arrangement. The VBC were restless. After long discussion they regarded everything that ought to have been said as said. The MMM was restless. He wasn’t getting any younger and his hair, a trademark supposed to denote his’ creativity’, was falling out. Half the shareholders were more than restless. Their way of life was visibly deteriorating.

Question: Is the current CEO right to undermine her probable successor’s position even though she has publicly dissociated herself from his views?
Is it the duty of one management to tie the hands of a successor management?

Translate this into the present Brexit scene and you come across another factor – family. Political parties are like families, with similar characteristics – quarrel within, stick together without. Some of the time, anyway. So the above CEO’s manoeuvering is not about the business. It is about the family or, as it is misleadingly called, ‘The Party’. I’ve been there and it’s no party.

What can we conclude from this skittish canter round the Polar field?

Parties exist, as did families, to perpetuate their existence. They have no other purpose. Anything they do beyond this is regarded by their colleagues as naive. Now revert to the company analogy. The days of the quiet, submissive AGM with its endless votes of thanks to those ripping the company off is over. Shareholders, even those in the Club, are starting to revolt. Selfishly at first, then for survival of the planet.

Unless something is actually – and seen to be – for the good of all the shareholders it will get booed at the Annual Mutual Backscratch (AMB – replacing the AGM). And unless the shareholders can be told something approximating to the truth, the company will fail.

Anyone who invests on the basis of a balance sheet is nuts. But an hour with the CEO gives you the best steer. Perhaps that’s why we never invested in Hyflux. Repeated attempts to meet with the CEO met with no response. You have to be lucky sometimes, don’t you?

From a political point of view I can only advise that ‘now is the time for people of goodwill to come to the aid of the party’. Not to perpetuate it but to reform it.

Your party’s over Olivia Lum but Theresa May’s is still hanging on by a thread.

Only just.