Thursday, 22 October 2015

Cymru am byth

By the time you read this, the defeat of Wales at the hands of South Africa in the rugby will be a fading memory. That much may be incontestable but what is also indisputable is this - the dignity with which the Welsh team took defeat will never be bettered!

I’m no expert when it comes to sport but, like most people, I’ve experienced enough of it to recognise true courage and valour. Both the captain and the coach for Wales refused to blame the result on injuries or new players coming in. That would have been the easy way in the raw moments of the post-match interview seconds after game. Instead, both men smiled at the camera and praised their team’s valiant efforts to the end.

From a business perspective, I think the point is that the defeat is seen as a temporary setback and the team spirit is not and never will be broken. What’s more the players in the team are completely trusted and will carry on repaying that trust with unswerving loyalty. On that basis, it will be possible to lose the battle maybe but still be fighting to win the war.

But of course all of this can be contrasted with the success of the Football Team who have qualified for a major tournament for the first time since 1958. Well done to them and I’m sure that will be a great occasion for the whole nation to rally round.

On a wider front I’m also going to link this event to business even though the connection may be slightly tenuous. My point is a simple one – Welsh business needs some of the spirit and dignity shown recently by Welsh sportsmen both on and off the pitch.

I’ve been involved in Welsh business for many years both as a Director and an adviser and I really feel the time is right to inject some passion into the fight. As a nation, Wales demonstrated pride and confidence in the future some years ago to involve major foreign investment into the A55 and M4 corridors – it needs to happen again! Blessed with entrepreneurial spirit and the drive to internationalize in the same way as the Celtic cousins in Ireland and Scotland, Wales needs to “put in the hard yards”. Take a leaf out of the book of the football or rugby team’s manual and train for a performance that takes you to the absolute limit.

As we can all see clearly from recent activities on those fabled pitches, when hope is alive and you are prepared to take on the world, anything is possible! I’m sure business will never get the same TV coverage as the heroes of the sporting world but the success can be every bit as sweet.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Just be yourself.

There are many things about the new Labour leader which have left me perplexed – I gather I am not alone! I’m not talking simply about appearance but rather about dangerously radical opinions, dubious friendships and a tendency to look back rather than forwards.  However, like many others I am being forced to revise some of my opinions in the light of what he is actually achieving even at this early stage.

Jeremy Corbyn may ultimately not make his party electable to govern and some of his rather more extreme views may be his undoing. But I think you have to admit that right now he is like a breath of fresh air in our politics.

The particular action that he’s taken that makes me think he is relevant to a business column is the stance he has taken over Prime Minister’s Questions. By insisting on civilised debate and an inclusive approach, Jeremy Corbyn has liberated the whole process and shifted the emphasis away from style and on to content. In a boardroom context, this for me is the equivalent of standing up to a bully-boy Chairman who stifles debate around the table for personal ends.

Simultaneously, Mr Corbyn has followed one of the golden rules for business growth which is to vigorously challenge habits which have been in place for many years. Such things, in a strange way, are protected and cherished even though they are clearly wrong. It takes a brave person to say things are going to change. Just because we’ve always done it that way doesn’t guarantee that there isn’t a far better way available to us.

For me, the other way major way in which the Labour leader has espoused values of extreme importance also in the world of business is his use of authenticity. In his world the use of spin has become ubiquitous to the point of completely denying the audience of opinions which are valued.

Ironically for someone who is often likened to comrade this or that, Jeremy Corbyn takes us away from the sterility of a party line that may have come out of a five year soviet plan. I can’t wait for his appearance of Question Time when for once we will hear views that are passionately upheld and of great personal importance. In business, this can be likened to the use of authenticity in presentations and brand building.

Whether you are talking about the public or your customers, it’s time to get honest and just be yourself. I’m not saying abandon the plan but be flexible enough to follow your heart from time to time rather than the head for the whole time.

At the end of the day, achieving change is a slow process whether in political or business terms, but you have to admire people who at least have the guts to tackle the problem head on.