Saturday, December 12, 2009

If I were a carpenter

I call it nirvana.  The perfect combination of good governance combines business planning, risk management, communications and social responsibility.

It all begins witha  ittablishing a governance framework as the foundation for the work that we do. This involved recommending a change to the Board of Director's governance model, to integrate traditional governance responsibilities like planning, enterprise risk management and reporting, with social responsibilities, like ensuring we are balancing the social and economic interests of our stakeholders, and making them aware of the companies direction and actions.

I then hired a team of professionals who have expertise in these areas, and who are natural born teachers, coaches and mentors. Their job is to develop the frameworks and policies that are needed and to engage the various audiences in the conversation about direction, action and social values.

They need to understand and negotiate the needs of each of our audiences, which includes the board, executive, staff, the community and our shareholders. This is a challenge given that what we do is new to the organization. In fact, before I began working with this organization approximately 18 months ago, these functions did not exist in the way they do now.

There have been challenges, but we have overcome them. When making a change of this type, one should expect resistance to change, processes and new accountability. But resistance is just another way of saying we are not done the job and we need to keep teaching and leading.

I always say, "We have to take them where we want them to go." We cannot give way to what is right because its uncomfortable. The learning process is like that. It's hard but then it becomes natural. It's like being in grade school and learning multiplication; once you have learned it, it's easy.

Leading change requires care, compassion and conviction. It's easy to give up and give in, but then what. You can never go back. By definition, one you have begun, you have already changed. So to give up prematurely is to end up in a new lost place.

The people in this new department have begun to thrive and the work they do is evidence of their talent and their commitment. I am more proud of their accomplishments more than anything else.

So I am standing now, standing on the edge of what's next, I see that there is much to do for we have only just begun.

The next step is to implement the frameworks and policies that we have created this year and help bring them to life in the organization. This will mean new ways of doing things. New practices. New ways to think. New ways to act. What we bring is the beginning of a new culture, and that takes time. It will require that leaders beyond me carry the message in everything they say and do.

This is the deep end of the ocean, and what we do will give rise to a new way to managing the company. It means adopting accountability and responsibility as a value from the top of the organization to each person who comes to work every day.

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