CEO Today - May 2022

century business leaders have used financial performance as the ultimate measure of success. Unfortunately, this has too often had the perverse effect of focusing attention on manipulating financial levers to look good each quarter at the expense of doing the right things designed to strengthen the organization’s societal contribution over time. Helle and Competent Boards help leaders connect the strategic dots that will achieve goals and ultimately strengthen their organization’s reputation. 4. Mobilise the resources required to bring your plans to life. Your company’s activities have been designed to optimize resource usage. Yet big crises and other unexpected negative surprises disrupt these designs, systems, and procedures for getting things done. Dealing with perpetual crisis is not served by an avoidance strategy that reinforces business as usual. We are now in an era of relentless business-not-asusual. Given this, the best leaders have adjusted their mindsets to embrace agility, away from repeating the same practices over and over. This means rethinking and reimagining your business around ‘next practices,’ including bringing in ecosystem partners whose values and business models are more closely aligned with yours. By the way, those next practices are no longer bound by ‘lowest cost’ provider thinking, profit maximization, or enhancing shareholder wealth. Instead, they are animated by doing the right things that create demonstrable societal value. Kevin Czinger blew up a centuryold business model. The sector? Automobile manufacturing. He saw that we are using far more resources than can be replenished, and the auto industry is one of the biggest consumers of limited resources and raw materials. Rather than make incremental improvements in robotic assembly lines, he took a clean-sheet approach to the industry, designing a closed-loop manufacturing system that is far smaller, less wasteful, and with a lower carbon footprint. His company, Divergent 3D, developed a new and more sustainable approach to auto manufacturing they call DAPS – Divergent Adaptive Production System, protected by over 475 patent filings. It is a fully digitalized manufacturing system using AI that develops auto structures using purpose-built materials (put only where they’re needed) then assembles them with zero switchover time from one structure to the next. DAPS™ does not waste an atom of energy, literally. Materials can be re-atomized and turned back into a critical component. Kevin mobilized his team and ecosystem partners around a new business model and manufacturing techniques that radically alter how to make cars. 5. Do all of these things well. The strategic choices you make are not a ‘this OR that’ trade-off; they are a deciding how to ‘do this AND that.’ The best leaders have integrated these to accelerate transforming their businesses into the kind of enterprises that deliver on creating positive societal value. It doesn’t have to take decades. Ørsted is a superb example of this. This Danish firm transformed from an energy company dominated by fossil fuels in 2009 to one dominated by renewable energy today, overcoming market scepticism. The result? Their market capitalization doubled and Ørsted has been recognized as the world’s most sustainable energy company by Corporate Knights for four consecutive years. • They asked a good question: how can we adapt to a world seeking responsible energy solutions? • They found meaning in scaling renewable energy designs. • Progress was measured against a goal of shifting from 85% conventional/15% renewable to 85% renewable/15% conventional. • They mobilized investors, partners, customers, and employees around a multi-year transformation plan. Follow these simple lessons and you’ll be better able to navigate most crises. VISION & STRATEGY About the author John A Davis is an award-winning academic, business leader and author of Radical Business: How to Transform Your Organization in the Age of Global Crisis published by Emerald.

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