Companies with a future

Published November 21, 2022

In the current global transformational phase, economic research shows that only the most nimble and adaptable companies and executives will thrive. Organisations that can rapidly sense and respond to opportunities will seize the advantage. The successful strategy for companies is to be willing to experiment and learn quickly.

We will have to stay mentally alert and engaged during our 50-year working life, which means knowing how and when to change the work we do, Peter F. Drucker, the great management guru, said several years ago.

Of course, there are challenges and risks. Still, opportunities and avenues for investment and the potential for economic development and growth opened up by the crises reward the performer for his pioneering effort — a new lease on a prosperous life. By harnessing local physical and (skilled) manpower in Pakistan and using evolving latest technologies, the vast potential for socio-economic development can be more rapidly realised.

The private sector can also play a vital role in developing the segment of the economy where state-run enterprises have failed to perform. The bleeding companies, devouring more and more taxpayer money despite a price hike in their products and services, have made it next to impossible to privatise them.

Corporate deaths should be preferred to running companies on losses perpetually

It is time for private sector companies with futurist outlooks to expand rapidly in areas these sick public companies operate and push them out of the market. Corporate deaths should be preferred to running companies on losses perpetually.

During the past few decades, legacy leaders in many industries that failed to embrace risk and innovation have faded away rather unceremoniously putting ‘what-if’ strategies in place, says Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Chairman Amir Khan. “To me, a risk-taking culture encouraged by organisational support lies at the heart of progress.”

Official quarters expect the private sector to play a transformational role in pulling the economy out of current distress. The Institute of Business Administration’s Finance Lab should consider collaborating with related disciplines to conduct studies on business processes, market sizing and value-chain assessments, says State Bank of Pakistan Governor Jameel Ahmad.

Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Amir Khan has identified three integral challenges to sustainable growth, which also become the cause for the lack of transformation of companies into enterprises suited to transforming the needs of the market and consumers.

Addressing the All Pakistan Chartered Accountant’s Conference 2022, he listed the challenges as follows: avoidance of risk, emphasis on experience instead of nourishing newer approaches from youth, and reluctance to adapt to changing needs of the environment. The exclusion of youth with aspirations and fresh outlooks also makes organisations fail to make business plans that ensure a sustainable and transformative future for businesses.

Mr Khan emphasises that technology is a key enabler in accelerating the transformation of businesses for sustainable growth. Equally important, he adds, is to continuously educate and retain the entire workforce for continuously using emerging and new technology. In Pakistan, IT is being used for the operational efficiency of existing business outfits but not for transforming businesses.

To retain employees, management has to motivate individual workers and inculcate teamwork by recognising and compensating for improved performance. They have also to open up lifelong careers for talented achievers.

Pakistan needs to build an internationally competitive economy. Former finance minister Miftah Ismail says the economy remains underdeveloped as it ignores most of the country’s talent. A successful economy keeps giving rise to new entrepreneurs that represent emerging industries and technologies.

But not here in Pakistan, he regrets, where wealth, power and opportunities are strictly limited to an unchanging elite. Unlike other successful economies, almost every successful individual owes his success to his father’s success. Pakistan’s economy relies only on whatever a small elite ( one per cent of the population) can achieve. Barring one religiopolitical party, Ismail adds, political power too is concentrated not in parties but in personalities.

In an article titled ‘Eight billion people; one humanity’, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says billions of people in the world are struggling; hundreds of millions are facing hunger and even famine. Record numbers are on the move seeking opportunities and relief from debts and hardships, wars and climate disasters.

Pakistan faces a similar situation. The private sector needs to remember that economic growth and development are essentially about the welfare of the people. Therefore, companies need to invest their profits in boosting production to create enough jobs and improve productivity to provide quality goods and services at affordable prices to consumers.

The UN secretary-general warns that “unless we bridge the yawning chasm between the global haves and have-nots, we are setting ourselves up for an 8-billion strong world filled with tensions and mistrust, crisis and conflict.

Mr Guterres concludes his observations on an optimistic note: “I never bet against human ingenuity, and I have enormous faith in human solidarity.” The publication of his article has coincided with both Chinese and US presidents apparently coming to realise that the solutions to their bilateral and South East Asian problems do not lie in pursuing Cold War policies.

If the two world’s largest economies are reoriented to prevent the world from splitting into two blocks, it may lead to more coordinated efforts to resolve problems and improve prospects of international trade and investment. If that happens, Pakistan could be a major beneficiary.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, November 21st, 2022

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