CANVAS - Family & Alternative Owned Business - Spring 2017 - page 4

In November Stephen Bampfylde
was delighted to join Sir Charlie
Mayfield, Chairman, John
Lewis Partnership, and Sacha
Romanovitch, CEO, Grant Thornton
UK LLP, on a panel chaired by
Matthew Taylor at the RSA. The
topic was “Partnership, Purpose
and Productivity”.
The areas being discussed by the
panel focused on the nature of
work and employment and how
rapidly it is changing. In the face
of an uncertain economic future,
what steps do we need to take,
and what new models do we need
to build in order to ensure that
everyone has the opportunity to
engage in work that has meaning
and value?
oming near the end of what
can only be described as an
extraordinary year in terms of local
and global politics, as well as a
seemingly unsettled economic backdrop in
the UK, optimism might have been thin on the
ground as this event unfolded.
However, positivity and confidence were
most definitely in the air as three senior
figures from seemingly very different business
worlds took to the stage at the RSA. These
organisations which on the surface could be
broadly categorised as executive search, retail
and professional services, were also very
striking in what sets them apart from others
in their sector, and aligns them so closely with
each other.
Apart from the more obvious point that they
all represent models of employee owned
business, the overwhelming alignment
comes in their recognition of the need
for a fundamental shift in leadership and
management style to facilitate and ease the
pathways of change, and to evolve for the
High on the agenda was the indisputable
advancement of technology, which is too
quick for the majority, according to research
referenced by Sir Charlie Mayfield that 51 per
cent of people in the UK think ‘innovation is
happening too quickly’. In retail the impact
of technology is vast and so obvious to all
consumers on a daily basis. However, for
those within the industry, and particularly
leaders within it, what is important is how
to harness this technological revolution to
ensure that current and future employees
remain engaged, and more importantly
employed and valued. The concept of
workplace automation is one that strikes a
chord across all sectors, with the threat that
all workers (and even the leaders) might one
day be superfluous. However, this idea was
strongly refuted by the panel with Sir Charlie
predicting a greater number of jobs being
created from the growth in technology, just
different roles and methods.
Throughout history across many areas of
life, there is a recognition that an increase in
automation often goes hand in hand with an
increase in production. However, does this
always mean an increase in productivity? The
buzz word from the Chancellor’s Autumn
statement (delivered a few hours before this
event) ‘productivity’ and how we can increase
it, was front of mind for many of those in the
It is not automation however that is the
apparent key to this, although of course
improved systems and methods to increase
efficiency are very important, the overall
consensus was that to improve productivity
requires a greater understanding of, and
listening to, what drives employees and
leaders. What makes them tick, what drives
them to succeed and how can they be
supported to be more productive is essential.
According to Sir Charlie, nine out of ten
people to be employed in the next decade
are already in the workplace. The time
to act is now. We need to be looking at
understanding their needs, their progression
abilities and not simply focusing on the entry
stage and how to get people in the doors. We
need to understand how we can make them
stay, improve them, preserve and value them.
This is what will provide greater productivity in
the workforce.
Sacha Romanovitch describes the absolute
need for a huge cultural shift for business.
The current industrial model of self-interest,
hierarchy and competition is on course to fail
in today’s connected and enlightened society,
she believes. Business, and indeed other
sectors, need to look to an agile business
model which engenders collaboration,
listening and a shared purpose. A model that
is more akin to that of an employee owned or
shared enterprise organisation.
The language needs to evolve, the approach
needs to be more positive and inclusive and
a trust in employees to deliver success, will
“51 per cent of people in
the UK think ‘innovation is
happening too quickly’.”
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