REFLECTIONS

 
 

WHEN everything is connected

What happens when practically everything is internet-connected -- from your clothing, to your coffee maker, to your car? And, all in a world where consumers don't reward security and safety over efficiency, speed and features? For one, vulnerabilities will increase as more low-grade computers, without strong built-in security and no ongoing software patching, are added to t-shirts, fridges, fish-tanks and the like. All of this will make home and business networks less secure. Checking if you’re out of milk while you’re on the road may not be so appealing? [READ MORE]

The incredible shrinking stock market

Publicly listed firms on U.S. exchanges have dropped from 4,943 in 1976 to 3,627 in 2016. Over the same timeframe, the average age of U.S. listed firms has increased from 12 years to 20 years, as has their market capitalization, and earnings have become more concentrated within the top 200 firms. A key trend underpinning all of this is the increasing importance of intangible assets, which relate to ESG, versus tangible assets. [READ MORE]

STRATEGY AND LEADERSHIP IN COMPLEX TIMES

A recent Deloitte survey focused on the CEO/Board attitudes, capabilities, and practices (of U.S. companies with $1BN+ revenue) regarding four, key strategic risks: brand and reputation, culture, cyber & tech, and extended enterprise.

While the report did not explicitly discuss the importance of managing ESG (environmental, social, governance) issues, aspects of these topics are part of the “ESG umbrella”, and the report’s findings were not pretty. What’s very clear is that CEOs and Boards need to develop their “mindset management”, engage in more (and better) future thinking and systems thinking as, “[t]hey’re not seeing these critical threats as interconnected, complex risks that, when managed correctly, could create opportunities for accelerating growth." [READ MORE]

THE SDGS — Beyond marketing

As the awareness of, and demand for, SRI and ESG have increased, so have assets invested according to SRI/ESG principles. But, alongside these developments there’s also plenty of “greenwashing”, some of which is intentional, some perhaps more related to thinking too optimistically, or “rosewashing”? (Yes, I just coined that.) It’s therefore not surprising that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) are attracting both passionate and intentional practitioners as well as those more inclined to use the aesthetically appealing icons as a marketing tool, rather than as a change agent.

“If the executives and trustees of the world’s large asset owners and asset managers are serious about their commitment to the SDGs, they must tell their ESG and marketing people to hold off on the SDG stickers and the impact measurement programs, and tell their CIOs, portfolio managers, investment analysts, risk managers, and credit officers to spend time working on ways to fund the SDGs—including the 90 percent of them that have no financing today.” [READ MORE]

Yes, STem is important, but so is philosophy

You only need to think about the current predicament of Facebook to be reminded that the Silicon Valley axiom “move fast and break things” may not be a sensible call to action in all contexts! Developers and engineers (or their team mates, at least) also need to be philosophers: "...philosophy can broaden the reflectivity-horizon of future business leaders to help them manage complexity and make sound decisions, not only in the purview of good business, but also in accordance with the needs of society." [READ MORE]