VEO’s must dance with agility in 2016

VEO’s must dance with agility in 2016

Towards the end of last year I said fasten your seatbelts. I hope you did so. In which case you will be saying “Where to now?” The rocky start to the year has left us with all the signs of an impending world recession or even a depression. Oil is at an all-time low. Riyadh & Tehran are at loggerheads that could lead to more conflict and unrest in the Middle East. ISIS is planning its next round of horrific attacks. Stock markets are wary of the combination of events, especially China’s apparent lack of control of its finances. And that icon of British enterprise, Marks & Spencer, has lost its CEO and perhaps even its way ahead.

‘Where to now?’ I hear you repeat. As the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer says (I paraphrase) “Get up and get on or get lost”. I think his message is partly to remind himself that the leadership battle over who succeeds Cameron will inevitably hot up soon. So he needs to follow his own advice, too. But the fundamental lesson for business as well as for politicians is that knowing what the consumer / voter wants is no longer enough. Today, you must educate them in how to deal with the brave new world, how to make it work to their advantage, how to enjoy the planet without blowing it up and how to survive rapid change.

We are like the cat on the hot tin roof. Lengthy contemplation of the next strategic move only burns your feet. We must dance with agility. It was always a rule that good CEO’s asked themselves daily whether they had raised the eyes of their employees above the horizon at least once. Now they must raise their own eyes to see what is coming at least every four hours. Change the title, and the behaviour, from CEO to VEO – Vital Executive Officer.

Here are the five questions every VEO should ask himself before he shuts his eyes to sleep:

[1] Have I scanned my one page of numbers about the business today? That page is a default reporting of changes to forecasts that may become significant indicators of what is happening to the business. Those who would like to know the one-page method, please ask.

[2] What conclusions have I drawn from that scan?

[3] What will I do about those conclusions tomorrow?

[4] What has my wider scan of the world told me today about political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, environmental and legislative changes likely to impact my business?

[5] What in my business looks like failing and how can I make it fail fast and cheaply?

Business life is brisk. To make it work today we must keep up.

When we do business itself will be brisk.

Good morning.