Megatrends and board of directors strategic agenda

photo-by-alex-wong

By Ronaldo Ramos*

In his book entitled Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari tries to understand what challenges humanity has faced so far and to imagine from the present, what the challenges will be in the future.

One of the functions of a Board of Directors acting in my opinion, is the protection here and now in the present, of the future of the company from its own past. The implicit hypothesis I use is that in our comfort zone we tend to repeat the actions that brought us to success paying little attention to whether they will still be effective in the future.

According to Harari, our great obstacles and pains until recently were war, famine and plagues. I will not go into ideological matters here. I believe there is no doubt that these problems now have their solutions well-known and relatively under control, as well as accessible in every corner of the planet. I will not focus here on the issue of whether or not they are available to all individuals, even though I consider it extremely relevant, just because I think we will move away from the central theme of this panel.

Harari imagines for the future a world where the fundamental issues, or obstacles, will be immortality, happiness and divinity. I in particular believe that immortality, or the death of cell death, is closer than we can imagine, and that happiness, in a way, will be very well simulated by constant episodes of joy, a feeling very similar and easier to purchase.

And of course, we quickly become hybrid, bionic beings, with parts restored when necessary, predicted or not by the analysis of our genome. We may make use of a 3-D cultured or simply skin tissue or simply produced from genetic engineering or any other nano process.

We will also deal with artificial intelligence, both private and general, robotics, energy cheapness, processors in neural networks and cognitive computing that will facilitate our diagnostics and analytical tasks.

In its most recent publication on Megatrends in 2017, the PwC lists accelerated urbanization, shifting global economic power, demographic and social changes, climate change and associated resource scarcity, and technological advances such as major Areas of attention.

A menu and so much to be digested by the executives of an organization and its advisers, mostly trained in traditional schools, by methods of teaching where the knowledge is presented almost always compartmentalized and coming from a society where the specialization and the depth of knowledge were critical success factors.

Until recently, our expectation of a productive life in Brazil led us to believe that after retirement we would have a decade with a good quality of life and that after that we would be nearing the end. It would be possible to survive without great efforts of adaptation to the few changes that the world proposed to us.

It was possible to live a lifetime with a single job, or even with a single profession. We know today that those present in this room will most likely live to be 100 years old with relative quality of life, and able to remain productive until they are 80 years of age or older. Not necessarily with the same profession but still performing activities or professions relatively known.

Our children and grandchildren, however, will have a different world where they may not need to learn to drive or learn languages, but they will certainly have to prepare for a job market that will require constant changes of profession every five or ten years. Yes, no more job changes, but profession! And most are still unknown!

The anguishes to be lived due to the increasing degree of uncertainty, the multiple options of choice, the constant changes and also the many stimuli for the pursuit of happiness, the immediate satisfaction of desires, can bring as a consequence what is already observed in the world Including the work environment of large corporations. An increasing number of suicides, abuses of chemicals that reproduce feelings of happiness, which increase our power of concentration or allow us to need fewer hours of sleep will be part of our daily lives.

We are likely to live in a world where mental disorders will reach a significant part of the population, feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty are frequent, and where there will be a greater need to seek emotional, intellectual, physical and mental balance and above all, to learn to live together and embrace diversity in all its manifestations.

In my experience as a multinational corporation executive, and as a mentor for CEOs, I have observed that in general our greatest and most common quality is technical training and the ability to solve problems from the inside out, In resolution of “complicated” problems.

I understand the complicated problem as one where a classical scientific solution, identifying independent variables, modeling subsystem solutions and then combining the subsolutions to compose the answer to the larger question works well, and generally leads to the relative control over the company’s activities, its markets and its value generation.

In Boards of Directors in general, we find trained professionals, but essentially still attached to this belief. The paradigm that an individual, classic, Cartesian scientific action, close to that of his performance as an expert executive still produces satisfactory results. These professionals do not necessarily have their attention turned to cultural change, to challenging, transformative thinking, and to chalenging existing truths. Few are the advisors who seek to move through the ability to act in teams, build collective proposals, look at self-development as a key factor for generating value for the company and its stakeholders, creating an environment of mutual learning, enabling it to create the cultural platform that will be the reference for navigating future uncertain and changing seas. The ability I still see is scanty to deal with “complex” problems where correlations between variables are much more subtle and difficult to control. When we interfere in a network of stakeholders for example, many of the results are unpredictable, and our ability to act in constant motion and develop an increased understanding of other points of view and aspirations becomes paramount. Investing in innovation in the formation and composition of Boards of Directors seems to me to be the first and important step to be taken by the shareholders in order to create the capacity of the company to deal with the new challenges.

Recruit directors with proven emotional and adaptive intelligence, aimed at cultivating the diversity and transformative ability of the company culture, aware that they can not commit interference or jostle with the board, and that they have an insatiable appetite for seeking news in other fields and Establish synapses with other areas of human knowledge, seems to me to be the central challenge. In this sense, the mentoring of CEOs, Board Members and Directors has proved effective and accelerated in general learning, in the sense of horizontalizing perceptions and increasing the repertoire of behavior and transformation strategies. Once this issue has been resolved and solved … the composition and effectiveness of the Board and its social and organizational dynamics of operation, we can try to guide the discussions on megatrends and new technologies, formally creating a thematic agenda that includes a mapping of risks, besides the traditionally done, that systematically seeks to identify opportunities for entry of new competitors by application of concepts of rupture theory and by internal stimulation to innovation by the implementation of specific processes of construction and ideation.

It is also important for the Board to identify whether the innovations identified and proposed could be at risk of internal cannibalization because the company’s culture is extremely dominant, and therefore evaluate spin-offs or separate business creation decisions that allow proper incubation. From the mapping of risks of rupture and threats and opportunities to competitiveness, we can then include in the company’s strategy the ability to search for internal or external critical success factors and establish metrics for progress in innovation.

Nowadays, I believe that because of the lack of proper mentoring to Board members, CEOs and directors, companies in general still spend a lot of time discussing whether they are doing things correctly, often looking only at the past, for results Obtained and similar matters. If the company’s performance is satisfactory, of course, the Council’s eyes should turn to see if the company is allocating material resources, managing its talents, and investing in the necessary subjects to have continued success in the future, arriving in many cases until planning the very obsolescence of the current business model. The Board should specialize in asking the right questions, just as mentors do. Questions that inspire, provoke reflection, and above all, induce the culture of innovation: In which market are we actually operating? Is the market changing? Do we still know our customers? Providers? Stakeholders? Regulatory agents? Who are our competitors today? And tomorrow, who will it be? How is management really stimulating innovation? Removing barriers? How can the Council set expectations about the future? Profiles of risk, agility of the market? What is the company’s appetite for inorganic growth, considering not only In competitors, or complementary, but startups? In summary, in order to address issues of megatrends and new technologies and incorporate innovation risks, opportunities and strategies, the Council needs to equip itself with new skills that include not only emotional intelligence to operate in a collaborative and contributory psycho social environment, but also Recruit and develop advisors who are willing to embrace diversity in the broad sense and horizontality of repertoires of synapses and behaviors that allow them to act no longer as executive operators but as true mentors able to bring to the fore the relevant questions for the design of the routes of Transformation of business models and value generation. Inspiring the CEO and its directors is also part of the Board’s responsibility.

Ronaldo Ramos
*Founder of CEOlab
ronaldo.ramos@ceolab.net

 

Understanding Transmedia

transmedia

By Mariane Murakami*

When I was finishing my PhD, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Ron Greenfield, editor of the digital magazine Aspects of Entertainment. The central theme of our conversation was the understanding of what is transmedia storyelling which was also the subject of my research. Ron approached very interesting concepts and tried not to be too academic, so our dialogue could be understandable to the general audience. I really liked the result and I reproduce here the full interview.

Aspects of Entertainment for Newsstand – Transmedia Dialogue
Ron Greenfield interview Mariane Murakami 

About Mariane Murakami (by Ron Greenfield)
Since childhood Mariane has been fascinated by the power of stories and narratives developed for television. Working as a high school literature teacher, she soon came to realize that media studies was her passion and in 2007 entered the University of São Paulo, Brazil to obtain her post-graduate degree in Communication Sciences. While there, she initiated and conducted several studies related to urban violence and its effect on the media, especially in popular fictional television programming.

Today, Mariane is a PHD student at the School of Communication and Arts at the University of São Paulo, where she develops research on television studies which focus on telenovelas, TV series, and transmedia storytelling. She is a member of the editorial board of Rumores (http://www.rumores.usp.br/) – an online scientific journal on media discourse and language studies – and an advisor at Novos Olhares – scientific journal Media Reception Studies, both published by the University of São Paulo. In addition, she is a researcher and digital media manager at MidiAto – Language and Media Practices Research Group that is also sponsored by the University of São Paulo.

She has written extensively on the topic of transmedia and is one of the authors of the book, Profissão Repórter em Diálogo, which discusses the language of TV journalism.

Ron Greenfield: What do you think is a good, working definition of transmedia?

Mariane Murakami: Transmedia is a concept defined by Henry Jenkins in his book, Convergence Culture, and it has been widely used by many people – from universities and from the entertainment industry. According to Jenkins, transmedia storytelling is a process where the essential elements of a story get divided across multiple media channels in order to create a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. However, I have seen some ambiguity in the definitions of the concept. Sometimes it can be confused with other concepts. The most commonly confused terms are transmedia and crossmedia, for example. But in fact, they are not the same. Crossmedia is “through” while transmedia is “beyond” media. When the same story is reproduced on different media platforms, it is crossmedia. Any person then, can access the same story in different media platforms. In transmedia, different media platforms produce different content, so they complement themselves. People then, can choose accessing only one or many different media – so they can have the most complete experience.

I think Jenkins’ definition is adequate for two reasons: first, because it is about telling stories, and stories have always gathered people together; second, because this definition is in line with today’s media environment, in which audiences increasingly demand participation. So, in transmedia storytelling, it is not only about distributing content in different mediums, once the story gains more and more relevance; it is about knowing how to balance creation and technology. The creativity and quality of the story is still important, but it provides infinite possibilities for the producers. It is about taking advantage of each media in order to create an environment that engages the audience.

Ron Greenfield: Just to clarify for the readers, there is a big difference between transmedia that can easily be confused with brand extensions. Each has their immersive or engrossing aspects, but transmedia is more about the original concept or story continuing along different platforms that incorporate different devices. Also it becomes a personal preference. There are some who prefer to be engaged with a story through their phone or tablet than their laptop or just through watching it on television. Do you think this is a major issue or problem affecting the global entertainment industry today, especially if it is going to grow and adapt for 21st century audiences?

Mariane Murakami: Engaging the audience: I think that’s the main challenge of the 21st century entertainment industry; audiences cannot be considered from the “mass audience” perspective anymore, since there are so many entertainment options. The way we consume information and entertainment has also changed. We continue to consume more and more media on multiple platforms including the internet, mobile, film, and television. This shift in media consumption and habits has forced the media industry to change strategies to engage them. This process is happening very fast; the traditional media is increasingly losing their audiences because people prefer to consume entertainment and news through the internet and mobile devices. The challenge for many media companies is how to bring back the audience for their products; the cultural framework is changing and the companies know that it is necessary to innovate in order to capture the consumer’s attention. So, transmedia storytelling has been one of the most suitable strategies to accomplish this.

RG: Can you give an example of how transmedia storytelling is a suitable option? For instance, let’s say you’re the producer of a television program or soap opera. Television, that is where your core audience is, but if the story is ongoing, what if one segment prefers twitter updates while others prefer instant messaging? How do you keep all these segments in the loop at the same time? And more so, how do you engage them on an interactive level? And, in addressing these issues, how do you see transmedia as a channel or means of resolving some of these issues?

MM: This is not a simple task, as I said, people think that developing a transmedia narrative is distributing content to many mediums – and that’s what most companies are doing. For example, reproducing videos from a TV series on mobile devices or on the internet is not transmedia storytelling. The media platforms (mobile phones, tablets, computer, television) are only supports – they only mediate. The companies have to focus on the stories they are telling – if the narrative is not attractive, it will not be capable of engaging the audience to move from one media to another.

RG: I think the essential idea here and probably encapsulates what transmedia is, which is, through the narrative, being able to engage the audience as they move from one media platform to another. It also brings up something else. I think culturally, whether it’s here in the United States, Brazil or China, we still have the mindset of entertainment as being what we call “one-way entertainment.” We see a film, that’s it. We dedicate ourselves to the situations or characters in a television show, but don’t necessarily see it going beyond that. If transmedia, or the concept of it is going to gain worldwide acceptance, how do you see or think the craft of storytelling is going to change or bring about a change in the way entertainment programming (film, TV, webisodes, even news) is produced and distributed? We can even add to that. Let’s take a hypothetical situation, and to the best of my knowledge, this has never been done before, but suppose a TV program has a run of 5 or 6 years, and for whatever reason, the series ends. Using transmedia, do you think the series can continue, and by that I mean to grow and build a following, even though the original programming is no longer on the air?

MM: Besides constructing an attractive story, it is necessary to think the narrative from a different perspective, because the experience of enjoying a fictional narrative in multiple platforms is not linear. The story has to allow for the viewer to be free to go in any direction he likes. That means transmedia writers should unfold a story in many directions, but being careful not to affect the narrative’s coherence for the different types of audiences. What I’m saying is that the story has to make sense – and be engaging and attractive as well – to the viewer (s) that follow the narrative exclusively through television, for example. After all, there will be casual viewers, and most of them will not access deeper levels of content. So the producers/writers need to build layers as rewards for the fan that wants to have the most complete experience. The most loyal fans who will consume the whole variety of products from their favorite story will feel an advantage over other people – they will discover unrevealed secrets, access exclusive content. For example, in 2009’s Comic Con, ABC launched the Lost University, an interactive multimedia experience, a fictitious university through which fans can enroll in courses that relate to content relevant to Lost. People could access the course content in the Season 5 Blu-ray set, and iPhone apps. Only the fans who were able to respond to questions about the show were able to take the course. – They received an exclusive Student ID card issued with an ID and PIN number for use with the Season 5 Blu-ray feature. Besides, the fans could take courses with professors from the cast and crew of Lost. They could feel they were part of the show. And for a devoted fan, nothing can be more rewarding.

As transmedia storytelling requires a wide perspective, I think media conglomerates will have to change (and it is already happening) the way they produce entertainment content. First, the notion of authorship has to change. An author no longer works alone on a project, because transmedia creation requires a creative process evolving people with different skills. This reality will force companies to redefine various management and planning processes during the creation, production, distribution, marketing, and promotion of a transmedia product.

For example, I think the main problem here in Brazil in transmedia experiences are telenovelas – the most popular media product. The author writes the story for television and only when it is done, the producers plan how to integrate it in other mediums – internet content, merchandising, mobile devices apps, etc. In the end, the viewer does not have a transmedia experience in the strictest sense, because in most cases, the different mediums do not constitute a unified narrative.

So, one of the most important challenges to be met by the entertainment industry is to change this way of thinking. The authors must learn new ideas and skills. They need to have an integral perspective, from the multimedia content production in order to construct a story with a broader offer of services to the audience, to the appropriate interactive relationship with audiences around the different mediums.

The integration of several different media into a cohesive and coherent narrative is a big challenge for the creators of transmedia narrative. Also, it is not easy to keep audiences interested in a narrative dispersed across multiple media, providing a comprehensive perspective to guide transmedia projects. The individual elements of a transmedia narrative (verbal elements, images, audio, and other forms of media) present their individual challenges, because each media has its own qualities, languages and strategies for producing and organizing content.

RG: From one point of view it is a whole re-thinking and re-education of providing entertainment content and taking storytelling in new directions. As you just said, “… the experience of enjoying a fictional narrative in multiple platforms is not linear.” Just in general, I think we are still very much a linear society. However, since the internet is now an integral part of daily life this is changing. More so in the coming years as we change our way of thinking. And as this occurs, how do you see the convergence of entertainment content (in whatever form that happens to be) and technology in the coming years?

MM: According to some authors, only experiments with transmedia narratives will help writers and media companies to develop new ways of combining media platforms and producing exciting new storytelling experiences. However, from a creative perspective, transmedia narrative projects are already transforming the art of telling stories. And it is what makes me believe that television and other traditional medium are far from “death,” as many people say.

What is happening is a transformation in the media environment, they are being forced to adapt to a convergence culture to survive. For example, journalism which is one of the most traditional forms of media has also been transformed with the convergence culture and the active participation of the audience. The cyberdemocracy phenomena – and the development of mobile and collaborative media – allows everyone to publish news before any newspaper. Great news agencies now compete with bloggers and tweeters for relevant information. So, transmedia journalism is now an important strategy to expand the company image. This process reinforces the interaction with the audience, it’s what motivates them to move from one media platform to another.

We can say that it is the same logic of the connection between marketing and transmedia narratives. Nowadays, transmedia narratives are the main strategy for companies to tell stories and to engage the consumers in an effective and immersive way, because: 1) the more the consumer knows about your product, brand, or company, the higher the conversions of purchase. 2) The more screens consumers use, the more time they spend with the content. 3) the more the consumer personalizes the experience, the more it pays off and less likely to move to a competing company. So, I think that media companies that are too reluctant about converging media platforms may suffer the consequences – the loss of audiences and consumers, especially if they are dealing with younger people. They tell stories for years, but the emergence of digital and interactive media – and the variety of entertainment and information experiences to choose from – turns the reception of this message into a difficult task, because they have to capture the attention and engage the audience first. As I said, they have to adapt and change their production and creative processes.

Transmedia strategies requires multitasking professionals and teams – marketing, design, techonology and most important, storytelling experts, because contrary to what many people think, what makes the difference when using the techniques of transmedia storytelling are not the platforms they use, but the stories they tell. That’s how you make the communication actions a true experience for the consumer, enabling great effectiveness and making better use of the money invested.

RG: Do you think, at the present time, media conglomerates (domestic and/or international) MUST restructure in order to maximize opportunities and revenues?

MM: It’s a fact that media conglomerates are now realizing that adapting their production and distribution strategies to the digital age is inescapable. Here in Brazil, for example, the most hegemonic TV company, after losing part of their audience and advertisers to internet companies, started to invest heavily in transmedia strategies. Today, every program has content on the internet, as extensions for TV. In doing so, they are trying to use the internet content to attract the audience back to the television. However, as I said before, I think media audiences are more and more segmented, so one of the trends in using transmedia strategies – especially for those who are beginning to explore opportunities in this field – is to increasingly adopt personalized (or one-to-one) marketing. So, they have to work with media specialists who are capable to work with integrated perspectives (exploring the possibilities of different media platforms), and also to understand the segmented profiles of the audience in order to produce personalized messages – which can be more engaging and attractive for the audience with all the available information and content.

*Mariane Murakami, PhD, is project manager focused on technology at Globant Brazil.
mhmurakami@gmail.com
*Ron Greenfield is editor of the digital magazine Aspects of Entertainment.
© 2013-2016 Aspects of Entertainment. All rights reserved.

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The complexity of work paradigm

Foto de Ronaldo Ramos

By Ronaldo Ramos*

There are fundamental differences between complicated problems and complex problems, as I have already discussed in earlier articles. There are also different approach techniques and misguided belief that we can fix complex problems with traditional tools. There is no doubt that the circumstances we face today are of primarily a complex nature.

According to the book Six Simple Rules – How to manage complexity without getting complicated, by Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman, we live in a world of growing complexity in which we still encounter two basic managing approaches.

The first is focused on processes, rules, timelines, methods and in believing that human beings are the weakest link in the productive chain, and therefore need to be followed and watched, based on procedure, monitoring and control guidelines. It´s called the hard approach. The second resides in the importance of the emotional side; employees must feel satisfied in order to produce more, acting in the construction of teams, work environment and other elements. As if we climb the ladder of individual necessities, prioritizing self esteem and social well being in the workplace.

Both approaches tend to predict and determine which human behavior is appropriate and to provide recipes to guide employees and other business personnel. Assuming that by these means productivity will increase, given that the employees needs are met, whether based on livelihood or other levels of personal fulfillment.

According to the authors, it is hard to escape the growing complication in procedures, norms and processes in companies that take in these ideas. Accountability, low value tasks and the creation of supervision layers end up being watched, which can lead to a growing disengagement based on the intense standardizing of methods and processes without leaving room for creativity and individuality.

Without the least pretention of questioning the necessity of rigid operation norms in hostile environments – or that represent any risks to the employee – neither quality guidelines that if are not met can threaten society and consumer. The issue refers to the premise of how human beings fit in the organization and how he is welcomed and valued.

All the approaches are based on the idea that human beings must adapt to certain behavior and procedure patterns (including simple rules of coexistence, respect and conduct), within a traditional perspective. In practice, it is hard to deal with disengagement – frequently attributed to the number of generations in the market and their differences in handling hierarchy, labor, leisure, multiple preferences – applying procedures that don’t differ much from each other.

Often, we observe companies that are concerned with the growing amount of stress, burnout, suicide and other mental disorders related to work. Positive Psychology tries to deal through raising individual awareness to their strong points and how to overcome difficulties, reminding that it is precisely these strong points their success.

The nature of the complexity is that no individual has a complete answer, that variables apparently independent posses a high degree of correlation with others, and that it is equally necessary that people use their autonomy to cooperate among each other, creating greater dynamic. Curiously, I remember my grandfathers telling me that in order of me to grow I would need to always keep in mind to enjoy freedom with responsibility. Back then I didn´t understand what that meant, but now it seems that it all makes sense.

The stages of human development – dependent in childhood, independent begging in adolescence and interdependent in adulthood – appear in these matters with absolute certainty. It is as if at this point organizations as going through difficulties created by the exponential technological development, by the power of social claiming and right to dignity, led by minorities and diversities. The workplace and the nature of organizations must take this into account.

Primarily by the pressing need to commit to purposes – not to loyalty to a company, brand or long term career – in the attempt to adapt to this new order. The process occurs by means of a greater opening to corporate secrets or dogmas (such as patents, sharing among inventors, growing use of robots and changes in corporate capacities), greater transparency, need for admiration, and respect for values and simplicity – that includes preserving the individual longing to take part, while respecting and considering, in diversity and in their own individuality.

To think globally, in teamwork, collectively, and to act individually.

Could this be a new paradigm to guide work contracts?

*Founder of CEOlab
ronaldo.ramos@ceolab.net

Sustainability: a shared value

Foto de Ronaldo Ramos

By Ronaldo Ramos*

The concept of sustainability was created 40 years ago due to environmental concern. It now faces the challenge in becoming shared value by business, professionals, consumers, citizens and governments, going beyond the corporate arena and spreading through society. It’s meaning has expanded throughout the years and has gathered many concepts: ecological liability, economic feasibility, socially just, multicultural, renewable, recyclable, natural resource exploration efficient, conscientious consumption and respectful use.

It is crucial to corporate survival to include and keep up with sustainability issues in governance, professional development, and their results. How to apply this concept in day-to-day business actions? What measures must be taken so the partners can incorporate this shared value in a sustainable fashion?  How to assure it’s fulfillment as well as the inclusion of budget investment?

Usually, sustainability is limited to a specific business venture. It is necessary to check the environmental and cultural aspects of the area to grant advantages or to compensate the community for necessary adjustments before proceeding. The business venture must be carried out to consider the community’s needs, cultural, religious, ancestral and environmental values. A central challenge is identifying the sustainability inputs in tune with corporate strategy, presenting them to the steering committees, incorporating to operations, and permeating the concept and practice throughout the company and stakeholders.

The Brazilian companies greatest difficulties in expanding and effectively adopting sustainability guidelines is the lack of reference when returning to projects. The second edition of “The managing state of sustainability in Brazil” (“O Estado de Gestão para a Sustentabilidade no Brasil”) study, published by Fundação Dom Cabral in 2014, suggests no significant changes and that the main challenge in 2012 is still valid: to reduce the gap between discourse and practice.

Since business does not carry out sustainable ideas, the companies are unaware of the financial benefits and efficiency that could be brought to the chain of production, including its longevity and renewing operation licenses with greater ease. Governments and citizens have the duty of comprehending and applying the concept in their initiatives, attending public hearing for the implementation of business and projects as part of a fundamental education to guarantee sustainability. By these measures, it is possible to suppose that government incentives for the implementation of sustainability projects can boost business in the internal administration and their relationship with society. Contrary to transparency it is based on a systemic and long term concept.

We are now in the era of shared management and sustainability should be regarded in a chain of valued perspective. The search for operational excellence also must be understood and stimulated by domestic business as a path to bring forth and differentiate its practices and products in a global market. A company that does not introjects sustainable values will have difficulties in the internationalization process.

According to HR specialists, the company should manage the employees in a sustainable method, aiming their wellbeing, promoting health, security, and balance in the work/life relationship, diversity and inclusion, gender equality, just rewards, fair pay, promoting development, internal positive communication, open dialogue and community relations. The approach of topics associated to the concept must be rooted in the business. It is a task that requires the effective communication of business values and mission.

One of the largest annual researches in the corporate sustainability world, the “Managing State of Sustainability 2013” (“Estado dos Negócios Sustentáveis 2013”), indicates that HR is precisely one of the corporate functions least committed in matters of sustainability. Corporate treasure was classified as the least committed, not much behind R&D, Strategic Planning and Marketing. This lack of concern shown by main departments reflects the current state of underdevelopment of sustainable values.

Although CEOs consider that commitment to consumers is the main motivation factor for accelerating sustainability investments, they are generally out of tune with the motivation for the purchase of sustainable products and services. A global study published by Accenture brings out that only one third of consumers consider sustainability.

Pioneer way of thinking and managing requires business that intends to be sustainable, to have smart, creative, committed and keen leaders that cultivate the culture of purpose.  The most valued persons do not contend with fund raising and donation politics. They need meaning in their work and their surroundings. The culture of purpose can be dismembered in three stages: cultural expertise, characteristics and attributes. Also requires energy, resilience, opening and personnel truly committed to these objectives.

According to the guidelines of the best practices of corporate governance published by IBGC (Brazilian Institute of Corporate Governance) in 2010: “Corporate governance is the system by which organizations are administrated, monitored and encouraged, involving partner, board of directors, managers and management control relationships.  The good practice of corporate governance turns principles into objective recommendations, aligning interests to preserve and optimize organizations value, providing easy access to resources and contributing to its longevity.”

The board of directors is responsible for orienting the process that defines tools and management indicators, including pay, to link sustainability matters to strategy options. This posture should spread out throughout the productive chain. The public authorities and the population’s participations are essential to the society’s responsible economic evolution. The individual challenge relies in rethinking our habits and customs in a sense of giving small but certain steps towards a sustainable future.

*Founder of CEOlab
ronaldo.ramos@ceolab.net

Dreams and budget planning

By Ronaldo Ramos*

A detailed budget planning that is aligned to the partners and company’s central values is vital to fulfilling the manager’s dreams. It is necessary to consider the shareholder’s wishes in all its dimensions: financial return, perpetuation, family income, growth, sustainability, corporate, social, and environmental liability, innovation, market, and diversity.

The dreams must be put in terms of critical factors for success and performance indicators, with short, medium and long term identification. The event horizon can range according to specific business characteristics and depending on the company’s financial health and the magnitude of imminent risk. The greater the awareness of threats, the shorter is the planning period. 

These objectives, drawn by the partners, must be shared, validated and accepted by leadership and collaborators. As to build and organization on track and committed, ensuring implementation of strategic thinking in its multiple levels. 

It is better to be prepared for an imaginary risk – one that does not materialize, but has a relevant probability – than to be caught by surprise. If the crisis is not addressed properly, we end up mining the company’s outcomes or going down drastic roads towards financial downfall. 

We must always keep in mind that budget planning represents an exercise where everyone thinks, plans, and identifies opportunities and risks together. We must also anticipate and define courses of actions to mitigate uncertainties and potentiate opportunities.

A round of budget planning can be done once a year and cover multiple periods. Such as a more detailed version for the following year and an indicative, that can cover periods between 3 and 5 years, depending on the venture. Some managers and entrepreneurs fail to be this thorough, alleging that the market’s dynamicity and volatility reduces the practicality and relevance of this long, expensive and complicated task.

The complete process can take up to 3 to 4 months and should be ready for final approval before the beginning of the regarded time period. The round should involve every decision maker, including partners, counsel (if there is one) and directors. The business key departments should also be represented, since their corresponding leadership will be responsible for setting plans of action.

It is best to leave all coordination to the financial director if he is capable of gathering technical plans from each department and identify opportunities, risks and mitigations, as well as questioning assumed premises, reflecting his observations to the final approvers. A solid financial formation and a certain dose of general business knowledge are essential attributes.

Each leader’s basic role is to identify what is possible to fulfill production, sales, investment, and profitability goals defined by the partners, council and CEOs.  Furthermore, the business maximum potential should be checked, as well as recommending investments and productivity programs, with the outlining of operations risks – be they of commercial, technical, circumstantial, political, compliance or any other nature that could have a significant impact in results. 

The models outlined during planning must be capable to identify the financial impact of the above mentioned in every line within the financial statements, from the main quantitative performance indicators. This way, a sales increase must have the expected or mitigated capital impact; a production increase must have the considered corresponding resource allocation; the release of a new product’s ramp up and start up phases must be outlined.

Plans of actions can go beyond current business resources. Some can be limited or discarded in time according to the situation. Restricting plans, cutting investments, increasing debt, capital calls, and preparing to go public or to sell are alternatives brought up from a well carried out budget planning. 

Tax and financial impact resulting from debt increase or from regulatory change, cost reduction opportunities and operational excellence programs, an overview of synergy and new structural organizations, and benefits and demands of automation investment: everything must be incorporated to the model. As the practice gains credibility, the budget planning becomes an important tool for a well informed and conscious decision making. 

*Founder of CEOlab
ronaldo.ramos@ceolab.net

The ability to deliver

Photo by Ronaldo Ramos

By Ronaldo Ramos*

When discussing a project or task with our superiors or colleagues, try to identify the most important steps that must be taken before accepting the functions and obligations regarding the job. Assess the task’s complexity and the necessary resources. Is there adequate technical knowledge? How will it be coordinated? How will it be executed? How will the client’s expectations be managed? A clear view of the task’s stages, control and delivery is necessary.

It is fundamental to identify if the requested resources will available within deadline, their costs and amount necessary. Therefore, invest your time in studying and defining the project’s scope, as well as identifying potential risks of possible alterations and mitigations. In case a certain guideline, method, or the client’s expectation changes during the execution or the resources are transferred to another project, the quality of the product or job and your image will be compromised.

During planning and negotiation of delivery it is necessary to predict space, resources and extra time to correct eventual deviation. The client must be informed constantly on the job’s evolution so they are not caught by surprise on the last minute, and to avoid emotional reactions based on the feeling of betrayal. Feedback and management clarity favors the result and the dialogue suitable to expectations.

A prerequisite for a successful project is in giving proper attention to details, when it’s being carried out. A scope that is accepted without insightful assessment could leave you in deep waters! But the search for perfection can also get in the way of meeting deadlines and budgets, as well as stressing the team. Always negotiate: the ideal, desired and possible quality based on the time and tools at hand. There is no perfect result!

Evolve your team’s capacity to do it right the first time, with careful attention, avoiding wastefulness and rework. Take good care of the critical path. It cannot escape your control or delay.

If there are conflicts, negotiate priorities. Preferably, in explicit and detailed method, by means of chronograms and global resources usage map. Topics such as level of importance, urgency and impact in the result must be present. Rely on good dialogue, transparent planning and coherent arguments and the job will be on the right path to the projected results.

*Founder of CEOlab
ronaldo.ramos@ceolab.net