Business News

An inspiring holiday message

DEAR PARTNERS, colleagues and (dare I say it) close personal friends. As the new boss of Multinational United Subsidiary Holdings (MUSH), I am proud to look back on another year of success at our great company. Our performance is largely down to you and your efforts, and we hope that next year those efforts will be rewarded with the end of our long-running pay freeze.

Under my tenure, CEO does not stand for Chief Executive Officer but for cheerleader extraordinaire. I feel passionate about reaching out to as many of you as possible (if not quite as passionately as our Chief Technology Officer, who is still on suspension until the employment tribunal makes its decision). The door to my office is always open, especially now that we are in an open-plan building. When it comes to 360-degree feedback, I have unlimited bandwidth.

What was my highlight of the year? It has to be the arrival of cultural facilitator (and part-time rapper) Monica Strutt, aka the “monster”. We all remember how we felt when we heard her first freestyle slam: “Use your energy/to create more synergy/our transformation/will be a corporate sensation/all your learnings/will boost our earnings”. Inspirational at the meta-level.

I am also excited about the reorganisation that saw the appointment of our first Chief Diversity Officer, who ticks all the boxes—as should you when the latest employee-satisfaction survey hits your email address. The revamp also saw the creation of two new senior roles: Corporate Responsibility Advance Principal and, pushing the envelope, our Thinking Outside the Silo Head. I expect plenty of both CRAP and TOSH next year. They will be cascading memos down the corporate waterfall as they try to define their roles.

Admittedly, 2019 has had its share of painful experiences. My predecessor’s decision to centralise all group functions did not work, resulting in some exceptional and extraordinary losses for the fifth year running. This forced us to close a few factories. On the bright side, our carbon emissions fell considerably as a result. Just doing our bit for the planet. I plan to return more power to the remaining staff by delegating control to the individual business units. Going forward, we will be moving backwards.

This means that now more than ever we need your input and inspiration for 2020. Please ideate 24/7. We need greater granularity and more thought leadership. Let us create a snowstorm and see what lands. If we architect successfully and get our ducks in a row, we can blitzscale MUSH and impact the market via a paradigm shift.

Business is getting a bad press at the moment for prioritising shareholders above all else. As our results make clear, we have managed to avoid this. What’s more, our company has a purpose, and next year we intend to find out precisely what it is. Those of us in the C-suite have been kicking around some ideas, starting with the creation of a cross-disciplinary taskforce. Does becoming part of that winning team fit into your wheelhouse? If so, let our HR department know and someone from the staff interface community will circle back to you.

Where will our corporate journey take us in 2020? Hopefully, to the sunlit uplands where a thousand flowers bloom amid blue-sky thinking. For that to happen, we must join the dots and create a toolkit that will do the heavy-lifting to allow us to leverage our collective skillset. Forget the doomsters and the naysayers, and the investment-bank analysts with their tricky questions about balance-sheet strength and cashflow. Our management consultants say that we are one of the best clients they have ever had and they look forward to seeing us again next year.

As well as a cheerleader, a chief executive needs to be a chef. At MUSH we have wonderful ingredients. With the right mixing, we can create a soup-to-nuts banquet that will have consumers and investors salivating. Does this vision speak to you? Then speak to me in January when I return from my Bhutanese meditation retreat.

In the meantime, have a great holiday season. Many of you are entitled to annual leave. I like to think we are all members of the MUSH community, even those of you on zero-hours contracts. Remember that, in 2020, all your hard work can pay dividends to our shareholders.

All the best to anyone in the group’s employment space.

Stay awesome. Buck Passer

This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “An inspiring holiday message”

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This post was originally posted at https://www.economist.com/business/2019/12/21/an-inspiring-holiday-message.

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