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How global Challenges propel the ‘Human factor’ to the forefront of Resilience & sustainable Value-creation

This article looks at how the ‘human factor’ imposes itself at the core of business transformation success in our ever-changing world and outlines the growing importance of nurturing two particular human values & creating the right culture to thrive.

by Evelyne Legaux on 14-03-2023


As the world enters a new era of evolution and business leaders across the globe are faced with the need to fundamentally shift strategic priorities, transform global operations and play an increasingly active role in tackling the planet’s biggest problems, they have no choice but to:

. ensure resilience in the face of uncertainty & volatility by embracing new technology, leveraging the value-add of sustainability or re-inventing supply value-chains,

. and develop purpose-led strategies with sustainable value-creation as ultimate goal.

What is very clear though is that today’s challenges are so big & so complex that nobody, whether an individual, a business or even a country, has the necessary resources, knowledge & capabilities to do it all alone.

To move forward towards sustainable solutions, business leaders need to re-define success, re-invent how they operate & embrace a whole new set of human values…


The Rise of the Human factor, a MUST to sustain business growth

Interestingly, the more technology evolves to become smarter & more agile, the more important the human factor becomes in parallel. Business leaders understand that putting people matters at the heart of business strategies is vital to survival & growth.

Hence a growing focus on matters such as diversity, equity & inclusion, career planning, performance management & rewards along with talent retention. The ongoing war on talent by the way, is only testimony to this essential trend.

To succeed with the human factor, business leaders must also foster a nurturing work culture that encourages creativity & innovation, creates mindset agility and drives empowerment & accountability as well as understanding, compassion & support.

Looking ahead, the future of work is actually shaping up in a way that will replace  qualifications & experience with people’s ability to learn & their progression potential.

No better way to redefine what human talent genuinely is all about …


The two human Values that Emerge out of the fog…

     1. Everywhere we look in today’s world is a major cry for collaboration!

. Democracy is on the decline around the planet, being threatened by growing inequalities, rampant populism & exacerbated geostrategic competition. The stability of democracy must never be assumed, nor should it be taken for granted.

Humanity has a moral duty to ensure that democracy prevails & survives at all times. For that to happen though, people, communities, societies & countries MUST collaborate. There is no other way!

. As for the business world, considering the rapid pace of change & pressure to create value, leaders must either transform to thrive or else be left behind. Key here is to bring new ways of thinking: while competition withing a given industry has been the dominant model for decades, now is the time to recognise that putting down traditional barriers & collaborating with others in the industry instead, is a smarter way to address ever-changing complex global challenges & expectations from stakeholders.

An excellent illustration of this is that some business leaders have started to build broad & diverse ecosystems within their respective industries that leverage available data, knowledge & skills. An ecosystem typically includes customers & suppliers but equally educational bodies, tech solutions providers, academic & scientific researchers and even competitors.

To be smart & effective, ecosystems must originate from a vision about future value-creation for customers, and be supported by a collaboration mindset along with problem-solving skills & technology infrastructure to make it work. Instead of thinking that every piece of the market pie gained by one player is less left for competitors, business leaders should consider how to bring those players together to deliver new value-add solutions to customers in a mutually beneficial way.

Such ecosystems are powerful: beyond bolstering innovation & strengthening resilience, by transforming operating models to unlock long-term value, they disrupt market competition & even entire industries.

The important point here is real-life examples demonstrate that it is the collaboration within ecosystems that enables businesses to create more value collectively & overcome challenges than they ever would individually.

. With regards to communities, business alliances & ecosystems are also essential to bring positive impacts that benefit everybody. And when it comes to addressing global challenges such as climate change, collaborative ecosystems are nothing less than a MUST!

In the insurance industry for instance, experts have observed a growing gap between protection needs arising from newly emerging risks (climate change, cyber threats, etc…) and what the traditional market has to offer. Given the complex & potentially devastating nature of certain risks, if & when designing new products & operating models to fill that gap, insurers will likely have to collaborate with public bodies, regulators & policymakers, whether national or international.


     2. Inseparable from collaboration is … trust!

Foundational to business existence & growth is people’s ability to trust the organization that they work for, buy from or indeed invest in.

Stakeholders’ trust however doesn’t grow on trees, it must be earned instead! For this to happen, business leaders must ensure that they conduct trade activities in an ethical way and are compliant with all applicable regulatory, legal & fiscal requirements in the jurisdictions where they operate, inclusive of new ESG disclosures.

Another critical condition to trust is for businesses to communicate effectively about what they do & how they do it, their strategy, core values and ethical & compliance performance. Transparency in corporate reporting appears invaluable to drive that much needed trust & support from stakeholders.

Taking another example, even in the world of Anti-Money Laundering & financial crime, trust & collaboration have proven to be essential values to respond to complexity & resource scarcity.

No matter the industry, trust is a condition to business survival & growth.


The increasingly Prominent role of work Culture

Together with the transformation imperative in the business world, goes the need for leaders to create a work culture that embraces new ways of working.

What successful transformations have in common is a work environment where people are actively involved at the heart of the change journey and empowered to design the future ‘to be’ solution or re-define their own work, while being made accountable for the outcome. One key element here again is collaboration, whether it is within individual teams, cross-teams or even cross-functional silos.

Another crucial dimension to consider is agility to enable the leveraging of people’s knowledge & expertise, while fostering creativity & innovation. However to be truly agile, organizations must develop the capacity to ‘fail fast & rebound’. Indeed, the rapid pace of new technology adoption, often enabling transformation, triggers the need for leaders to acknowledge & accept that heightened risk-taking & failure go hand-in-hand with an innovative spirit, therefore any unsuccessful attempts shouldn’t be penalised for what they are.

Last but not least, transformation leaders must live, breathe & embody their organization’s culture, and demonstrate understanding & support for their people throughout the entire journey.

Transformation cannot be guaranteed unless the right culture is created & people are put at the heart of it all …


One last remark

Beyond the executive leadership team & management layers within an organization, the Board also has a key role to play in aligning with the company’s purpose. As such, Board members must bring a mix of expertise & skills that reflects today’s global issues & business challenges. Along those lines, Boards may need to revisit members’ roles and consider ways to measure transformation success relative to executive bonuses…  


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