As we enter the furore of renewed business activity that September brings, it's important that time for repose and reflection is not lost.
Taking time out to read about the latest thinking on key business issues is a good way of detaching from daily activities so you will shortly be receiving the new issue of Criticaleye's publication, the Review, featuring a collection of articles from your peers on topics including leadership, corporate governance, innovation and emerging markets, to name a few. I urge you to take time to read some of the pieces we have selected as a chance to step back, explore how other leaders are addressing specific business issues and, ultimately, obtain information to help drive strategic decision-making.
Making time for reflection is vital for leaders of any organisation. Bernard Cragg, Senior Non-executive Director, Workspace Group and Associate, Criticaleye explains: "Reviewing strategy is one of the most important things that a chief executive can do. They should take time to consider if it is realistic. Has it been communicated and bought into at all levels of the company? Does it set clear objectives and milestones for the company? Has it established clear outputs and indications that the strategy is being implemented? Is it working or how long will it be before we know it is working? You do not need lots of people or data to answer the key questions. What is really needed is a level of reflection and honesty."
Bernard Parsons, CEO, BeCrypt believes that leaders should step away to get perspective on the strategy. He says: "Taking time out is vital to driving the strategy and performance of the organisation. Leaders should use time out to reflect and gain fresh perspectives so that they can lead their company or their team to even greater levels of performance and productivity."
Clearly this is not always easy to achieve. The increasing speed of change means that senior executives need to be on call around the clock. It can, however, be achieved, as Ralph Bernard CBE, Chief Executive, Royal Albert Hall explains: "The key to taking time away from work-related issues and having the opportunity to take stock and reflect, is delegating to an exceptional number two, and having the correct management structures in place so that decisions can be made in your absence."
In the current economic climate, one could say that the need to take considered decisions has never been greater. CEOs who bury themselves deeply in the organisation will fail to understand external issues that could impact on their strategy. Sir John Egan, Chairman of Severn Trent plc and Associate, Criticaleye explains: "The world changes rapidly, it's vital that the CEO reviews his strategy to ensure that it is still relevant to the changed circumstances." Gary Kildare, Vice President, Human Resources, Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific, IBM, reiterates these sentiments: "In times of significant turmoil, the organisation benefits from executives who can respond to change, make sense of what's happening around them and help guide the business forward. Being detached from the business has become more difficult, but it is important to find space and time to think, to be connected to colleagues and business associates who challenge you and to be open-minded and pragmatic on the future."
The Criticaleye Review offers a great opportunity for executives to step away from their everyday responsibilities, even for a short time, and gain fresh insight into business issues. Here are just a few of the pieces the upcoming issue has to offer:
- GlaxoSmithKline: Making an Impact on Emerging Markets: insight from GSK's President of Emerging Markets Abbas Hussain on how the organisation radically changed their approach to emerging markets
- Public Sector Boards: Finding a balance in a challenging environment: by Senior Advisor to the Board, Royal Mail, Clive Ansell looking at the changing role of public sector boards
- Achieving Accountable Marketing, by the CEO of Prophet, Michael Dunn which looks at how to demonstrate return on marketing investment
- The Experience of a First Time CEO where former CEO, Redstone plc describes his experiences completing a reverse takeover and becoming a CEO
- A Framework for the Intangibles of Innovation, a piece by Harry Scarbrough, Professor and Associate Dean for Research at Warwick Business School on implementing innovation effectively
You will be sent the latest issue of the Review very soon including these and many more fascinating insights from across the Criticaleye Membership. I look forward to getting your feedback on the articles that we have included.