No, don’t worry. I’ve not had some kind of evangelical experience over the Christmas period. But I think the FT may have had one given the article in their weekend edition, Beyond the bottom line: Should business put profit before purpose? It’s a great read but sadly behind the FT firewall so unavailable to non-subscribers. In short, the reason I’m excited by the article is that they finally start to ask the pertinent questions about shareholder primacy – the orthodox view on corporate governance that has prevailed over the past five decades. They quote good old Paul Polman, Unilever’s outgoing CEO who I think hits the nail on the head “Why should the citizens of this world keep companies around whose sole purpose is the enrichment of a few people?” However it gives a balanced view and asks if society can really trust finance or business to decide what is best for society? Well, certainly not the CEOs or Boards of these multinationals which are primarily “pale, male and stale”. It stops short of getting into my topic du jour of how we democratise the global corporation, but all in good time readers, all in good time.
In today’s excitement, I’ve nearly forgotten to wish all my readers or Bullogers a very happy New Year and hope that you both had a great break over the festive period. I certainly did, spending time with Arianna’s family in Rome pre Christmas. I was then in Bute for a week before heading to the French Alps for a few days over New Year including what we term in Scotland, Hogmanay (that’s the 31st December in case you were wondering). New Year is always a time for reflection, resolutions and new beginnings and so here are a few of my own thoughts:
Looking back on 2018
2018 was a certainly a very big year for me personally and looking back, a key highlight would have to be the launch of “The Intrapreneur: Confessions of a corporate insurgent” back in April and all the related events around the world that followed. I’d always said that any royalties I received for the book would be going to charity and so when my first cheque came in from Unbound, I had the fun task of deciding which charity should benefit. In the end I landed on two different causes that are both close to my heart. As regular Bullogers know, I’ve proudly served on the board of The END Fund for 7 years and decided to stand down in September. They do a phenomenal job tackling neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and so it seemed fitting that they should receive a share of my book royalties. The other charity I chose is domiciled where the opening chapters of my book are set – The Isle of Bute, Scotland where I grew up. It’s called Calum’s Cabin and provides accommodation on the island for terminally ill kids and has a phenomenal network of local supporters. I was delighted to hand the cheque personally to Duncan Spiers who founded the charity 11 years ago with his wife Caroline following the tragic death of their own son Calum – it’s a sad but very inspiring story. Don’t get the impression that I’m being excessively generous here – my royalties are not quite on a par with J K Rowling’s, but every little helps I’m sure. Well, so Tesco keep telling us.
Many thanks once again to all of you who have supported me in getting to book to print or with writing kind reviews on Amazon and Goodreads – I’m really chuffed that 95% are 5 star and delighted that the book seems to be resonating with so many of you. At the risk of repeating myself (would I ever do that?), please, keep these reviews coming in as they really help to spread the word digitally through Amazon’s Big Brother algorithmic technology.
Many of you have also supported in other ways, such as inviting me to do sessions within your organisations. I did two such events in December – one with Khalid Kosser who is the Executive Director of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (or GCERF) in Geneva, an organisation seeking to end violent extremism. Don’t be put off by the dodgy acronym – they do really great work on the ground. I also went to St Gallen in the far east of Switzerland where I gave a presentation to 100 staff at Raiffeisen Bank and signed a few books. Selling a job lot of books and throwing in a presentation or workshop is a format that’s proving quite popular and I’ve got a few more such sessions coming up in the weeks ahead. I tend to focus on three broad themes or questions emerging from the book:
- Is it so crazy to suggest that business has a broader purpose beyond just making money for shareholders?
- Will we see change driven top down or bottom up?
- Can we address the mental health crisis at the level of the individual alone, without focusing on the organisations and the economic system they’re working within?
Don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you think your own organisation might be interested and we can talk about “mate’s rates”. I enjoy these sessions and each one turns out quite differently, based on how the audiences react to my provocations. OK, sales pitch over.
While on the subject of provocations, I also gave a talk to students from the University of St Gallen’s Development Course held at the UN Palais de Nations in Geneva, debating contrasting views on development and the role of the private sector with two fellow presenters, both from within the UN system. But that was tame compared with the controversial OpEd I wrote in Ethicalcorporation magazine “Sacha Romanovitch was ahead of her time – and she paid a high price”. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and whether you agree with my sentiments around her departure.
Craigberoch “Decelerator” picks up pace
Last, but by no means least, I wanted to give you an update on the Craigberoch “Business Decelerator” project which you’ll remember from the August Bullog. Well, it’s been a few months in the making, but I received the draft feasibility study back from the architects just before Christmas and had a chance to meet with them over the holidays. What are the headlines? Well, `the structural survey suggests that the existing ruins are in reasonable condition and can hopefully be incorporated in the future design. I’m sharing a couple of pictures taken over Christmas (courtesy of local friend Kirsty McLeod) of the ruins and the lovely Bronze Age standing stone which will form a key part of the future development. Also an indicative image of what the new development could look like. Exciting, right? Seeking grant funding and possible co-investors will be a key focus for the first part of 2019.
A dog is for life…….
I usually finish with a bit of personal news and I can’t sign off without updating you on a new addition to the family – Penelope or “Penny”, our new puppy (the relevance of the name will not be lost on the scholars of Greek mythology amongst you). A career spent in management consulting means that I’ve had to deal with a lot of sh*t in my time – but a 3 month old puppy takes the biscuit – literally and metaphorically. However, she melts most of the hearts of those she meets, as I’m sure you’ll understand from the photos.
Looking forward to keeping in touch in the months ahead and once again, am sending my best wishes for 2019 to you all.
* The Bullog = Bulloch + Blog
Make sense? Not bulldog, nor is it bulls**t although I’ll let you be the judge of that! It’s a brief synopsis on recent articles, events and opinions from my world and the things that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.