The interesting and fun bits of our world are driven by the vision, imagination, and execution capabilities of people. Much of the capital and technical capabilities required to enable these great things to happen are tied up in our corporations, governed by the legislative, and community demands for absolute compliance to an established norm.
Almost by definition, the norm is boring, ordinary, “so yesterday” as my beautiful daughter would say. How is it then that the boards of those same companies, the people with the ultimate responsibility to determine the long term priorities of the business, and allocate the resources to deliver them for stakeholders make the necessary choices. They have to make choices between the creative, the risky, and the new stuff that will cannabilise their existing position, whilst being tied down to processes that demand short term, conservative, risk averse, and ultimately boring behaviours.
The Corporations Act and various accounting standards, domestic and International, require many things of directors, almost all are quantitative, take great time and energy, and deplete resources, when the real value is added by the qualitative.
As a community, we demand probity from directors, and largely we get it, but the few who play fast and loose, who feed self interest at the expense of the interests of those who are footing the bill, ensures that there are rules crafted to catch the 1%, but that hamstring the 99% in the process.
The few truly great leaders around in charge of our large corporations that manage to make those choices are the exception. Jack Welch at GE made six sigma the manufacturing standard of the west by driving GE along a path invisible to most, and his successor, Jeffrey Immelt followed by a pivot of GE into green power, and has created an 18 $billion manufacturing division in just a few years that promises to be hugely profitable whilst delivering enormous value to the planet. There are a few others, the oft cited Apple, FedEx, Disney, add your own, but it is a short list.
Perhaps it is happening again as the suppliers of the milling and moulding equipment used in manufacturing, are about to be made at least partially redundant by a few outliers who are putting manufacturing equipment on desktops.
Just a pity there appears to be so few in Australia.