Tag Archive | politics

BANKS AND VALUES

Background

There is no doubt that 2012 was a difficult year for financial institutions and banks. Again financial institutions and banks found themselves too often in the news for the wrong reasons. This damaged trust in banks, which was already at low ebb.

The behaviours which made those headlines in 2012 underlined how banking as a whole had lost its way, and had lost touch with the values on which banking reputation and trust were built.

Over a period of almost 20 years, banking has become too aggressive, too focused on the short-term, too disconnected from the needs of their customers and clients, and wider society.

There was a tendency to pursue short-term profits at the expense of the values and reputation of the organisation; a tendency to choose profit over values-driven business.  In doing so banks damaged their ability to make long-term sustainable returns.

Values-driven business

But banking will only be valuable business if it is values-driven business; banking will be valuable business if banks operate to the highest standards of behaviour with integrity.

There is no choice between profits and values-driven business in banking business and to place them as opposites fundamentally misunderstands the problems facing the banking sector.

Banking business is built on having a firm commitment to strong values. This is not something banks should do for public relations or political benefit. It should not be a window dressing gimmick. It should be how banks should be run to become valuable and sustainable institutions.

Banking Reforms

The time for reform is now. Banks should reform and the reform should be values-based reform. Banks should look afresh at what they want to achieve and how they want to do it. Banks should reflect on their history which shows how banks and what banks can achieve when grounded in strong values.  And by remaining grounded and committed in strong values, then banks can be institutions that does the right thing for colleagues, customers and clients, and indeed all of their stakeholders.

Agreeing and having a strong commitment to strong values is one part of the equation, the easy part of any banking reform. The difficult challenge is to ensuring everyone in the organisation live by them all of the time.

Aside making sure every staff is aware of the values, banks should make sure the values play apart in how bank measure individual and business performance. Performance assessment must be based on the ‘WHAT’ and ‘HOW’. Bank must ensure they reward people for making the bank money in a way consistent with their values. Rewards should be link to the upholding of the values.

Conclusion

Banks have been around for centuries. Their success and longevity has been based on integrity and its attention to customers and clients. When Banks have forgotten that, they have paid the price. If Banks continue to combine the right values with the right strategy, banks will build more successful business in the years and decades that follow.

No bank can continue to be successful – nor do they deserve to be successful – unless they live by their values. The business of banking is values-driven business.

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Communication Skills vrs Technology

Business leaders are typically great communicators and this is the number one quality they looked for in future leaders. They also recognise and value this precious skill in others.

A great communicator is someone who is comfortable talking to anyone, anywhere in the world. Someone who could make things happen across international borders and cultural barriers, someone who could walk into a room anywhere in the world and fix a problem, delight a customer, secure a partner, or close a deal.

Lack of communication skills or Inability to interact, articulate or persuade can have immediate and potentially consequences for any business. The combined effect over time can be an eventual loss of competitiveness and a negative effecton the bottom line. At the personal and career levels, smart and talented people lacking these skills will find the odds stacked against them. But when outstanding communication skills are married with brains and talent, the sky’s the limit for career oriented persons.

What this means is communication is the single most important business asset, absolutely essential to any company that hopes to grow and prosper.

But technology is rapidly dumbing us down. It’s quietly alienating us from one another and robbing us of our precious and unique gifts of face-to-face direct human interaction. Technology is robbing us of this precious skill of communication. Nowadays we email, we text, we tweet, we socialise online.

Many of us don’t read as much, nor socialize the way we used to, nor value speaking skills the way we once did.  All these are leading to the gradual loss of the art of conversation we once valued and cherished, and the steady erosion of our capacity to interact effectively at a very personal level. The more we rely on technology to do our talking for us, the more we can expect to see the costof that reliance in our business results and performance.

Excellence in business communications should be as routine as excellence in business performance. In successful corporations, communication is performance.

If you cannot communicate, then you cannot sell a product or service, command a room, run a meeting effectively, persuade investors, inspire employees, align team members, or compel key audiences. If you cannot communicate then it means that if you have a good idea, you might not be able to sell it. If you have a vision, no one will hear it. If you have a strategy, no one will follow it.

Unlike business people, politicians have long understood the value of leadership communications. In fact, word power is their entire stock and trade. Millions of people vote politicians who are able to  articulate their vision and  clearly define problems and solutions, simplify the complex, rationally debate any issue, This is not the kind of thing you can do with just text messages, e-mails, and tweets

Maybe business people should borrow from the experience of politicians. The question here is, can you walk into a room anywhere, anytime, and make things happen? Wonderful things unfold when people talk face-to-face in private offices, conference rooms, boardrooms, corridors, auditoriums.

It is time to capitalize on the huge added value that leadership communications brings to business proposition or transaction. We should not allow technology – the promise of this age, to rob us of this key skill.

SOLVING INEQUITIES IN THE WORLD.

The past

Years back, students graduated from schools with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world – the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.

40/50 years back, graduates left campuses knowing little about the millions of young people cheated out of educational opportunities around the world and knowing nothing about the millions of people living in unspeakable poverty and disease in developing countries.

They learnt a lot at campuses about new ideas in economics and politics and exposed to the big advances being made in science and technology.

But humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries – but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity. Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality health care, or broad economic opportunity, reducing inequity is the highest human achievement.

The present

These were the days gone by. But how about the now – 21st century.

Thanks to advances in technology (TV, internet etc) students know or should know more about the world’s inequities than the classes who came before them and they should be taught to think – about how in this age of accelerating technology, they can take on inequities in the world and solved them.

Millions of children are dying every year in developing countries from diseases (Measles, malaria, pneumonia, hepatitis B, and yellow fever) that had long ago made harmless in developed countries. If every life has equal value then some lives should not be seen as worth saving and others not. All lives deserve the priority of the world.

The question

The question we have to ask ourselves is how come that the world is not able to save these children with all the resources at its disposal. The answer is simple albeit harsh. Market forces do not reward saving the lives of these children, and governments did not subsidize it. So children die because their mothers and their fathers had no power in the market and no voice in the system.

So the next question is how can we face this challenge? How can we as nations do the most good for the greatest number of people with the resources we have at our disposal?

Creative Capitalism

We can make market forces work better for the poor if we can develop a more creative capitalism – if we can stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or at least make a living, serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities. We also can press governments around the world to spend taxpayer money in ways that better reflect the values of the people who pay the taxes.

If we can find approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits for business and votes for politicians, we will have found a sustainable way to reduce inequity in the world. This task is open-ended. But a conscious effort to answer this challenge will change the world.

Complexity – Barrier to Change

The barrier to change is not too little caring; it is too much complexity. Complexity makes it hard to mark a path of action for everyone who cares — and that makes it hard for their caring to matter. To turn caring into action, we need to see a problem, see a solution, and see the impact.

If we can really see a problem, which is the first step, we come to the second step: cutting through the complexity to find a solution.

Cutting through complexity to find a solution runs through four predictable stages: determine a goal, find the highest-leverage approach, discover the ideal technology for that approach, and making the smartest application of the technology.

Sharing to Inspire

The final step – after seeing the problem and finding an approach – is to measure the impact of our work and share our successes and failures so that others learn from your efforts.

But if we want to inspire more people to participate; we have to convey the human impact of the work – so people can feel what saving a life means to the families affected.

We can’t get people excited unless we can help them see and feel the impact.

Conclusion

Yes, inequity has been with us forever, but the new tools we have to cut through complexity have not been with us forever. They are new – they can help us make the most of our caring – and that’s why the future can be different from the past.

The defining and ongoing innovations of this age – biotechnology, the computer, the Internet – give us a chance we’ve never had before to end extreme poverty and end death from preventable disease.

We can use the growing power of the Internet to get informed, find others with the same interests, see the barriers, and find ways to cut through them. We shouldn’t let complexity stop us.

We have technology that earlier generations never had. We have awareness of global inequity, which earlier generations did not have. And with that awareness, we also have an informed conscience that will torment us if we abandon these people whose lives we could change with very little effort.

We have more than they had; We must start sooner, and carry on longer.

Knowing what we know, how could we not?