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A view from INSEAD

Integrating performance and progress in your organisation

Professor Subramanian Rangan

Programme director of Integrating Performance and Progress

September 2017

"Economic performance and societal progress are the “twin peaks” of professional and organisational success that every manager must scale in the 21st century." says programme director Subi Rangan.

What business and societal dilemmas does Integrating Performance and Progress address? And what kind of executive does the programme attract?

Economic performance and societal progress are the “twin peaks” of professional and organisational success that every manager must scale in the 21st century. Is your organisation confronted with apparently ill-structured yet consequential dilemmas (e.g., equity and efficiency in supply chains; people vs. technology dilemma in operations)? As a business or function leader do you want to enable and ensure that your organisation will be successful and trusted? Do you want to make a career and a contribution? Are you keen to understand and practise steward leadership? If you answer “yes” to the preceding, then Integrating Performance & Progress may be right for you.

What can executives expect to get out of the programme?

Integrating Performance and Progress invites you to come validate your intuitions, learn to better formulate and justify your intentions, embolden your imagination, and last but not least, enact a performance and progress integrating vision. In a paradigm-shifting design, the programme draws on strategy and philosophy to help you apprehend and appreciate what it means to practise steward leadership. You will depart enlightened and empowered to shape outcomes and not only output, secure reputation and not only results, seed value for the long and not only the short term. In short, Integrating Performance and Progress will educate and energise you to integrate performance and progress, and to do so at scale.

Why should, and how can business leaders have an impact on societal progress?

Traditionally, societal progress has been seen as the primary responsibility of government, while economic performance has been seen as the sole responsibility of business. But that division of labour has proven unsatisfactory. Contemporary enterprise has achieved unprecedented levels of efficiency, innovation, and wealth creation. Yet from environmental degradation, to wealth concentration, to immoderate consumerism, to money politics, the world is now confronted with declining trust in the very idea of capitalism. In turn, restrictions and regulation have become a growth industry. Business leaders have the power to repair and reverse this narrative. In order to do this, we must evolve the paradigm and practice of modern business so that economic actors (enterprises, executives, board members, customers, consumers, employees, investors and pertinent others) better integrate economic performance and societal progress. Doing this in a piecemeal or merely ceremonial fashion is no longer sufficient. The now unstable platform of capitalism needs, beyond performance, the dual anchor of progress. It is hence that, like performance, progress too must be addressed at scale. This is undoubtedly a hard challenge, and winners in the 21st Century will be those executives and enterprises that embrace the apparent and inherent contradictions with courage, creativity, and conviction.

At the heart of Integrating Performance and Progress lies three business axes: strategy, operations and governance. Can you explain why these are the key dimensions to address?

All organisations (regardless of size, sector, or geography) must make decisions and choices on 3 core dimensions: strategy, operations, and governance. These after all are the key dimensions on which enterprises build and sustain their performance.

It stands to reason therefore that it is along these same dimensions that business leaders must enact the precepts of progress so as to integrate performance and progress.

Strategy deals with such crucial questions as: What products and services to offer? To what ends should resources and capabilities be deployed? What capabilities should be developed? What markets and segments should be targeted? What prices and margins to aim for? How much marketing and advertising is appropriate? Is growth in revenues always better? It is conventional to address these questions in a manner that addresses enterprise performance. Of course the time has now come to also address these in a manner that addresses progress. Calculation and reasoning must go hand in hand. Cash and contribution must be integrated.

Operations deals with consequential questions related to people, materials, supply chains, and footprints (energy, water, waste, etc). How to consider fairness and not only bargaining power in optimising labour costs and efficiency? How to think of ideal unit costs when we bring progress into the picture? What about the substitution of technology for labour? What about delocalisation and offshoring? Is the law the best guide in deciding on whether and how much to invest in humane supply chains? How to factor in the reality of competition and competitors in the preceding?

Governance is the profound if not-so-visible activity that orients enterprise aspirations, culture, and future. Where do enterprise goals come from and what goals are proper? What future planning horizon is proper? When is it sensible for enterprise leaders to practise stewardship and not only ownership? To integrate performance and progress how to select, develop, measure, and compensate leaders at the top of enterprise? To whom is the board ultimately accountable?

To find out more about Integrating Performance and Progress and to start the application process, please visit the webpage.

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