THE BLOG

In an Era of Unpalatable Events Integrated Thinking Is Crucial to Business Success

19/04/2016 10:55

As I write, it is just two weeks since the leak of 11.5 million files from the database of offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. This leak - the biggest in history - reveals the ways in which the world's super-rich, including leading politicians, have used offshore tax systems, leaving global foundations of power wobbling.

And while the revelations are sending shockwaves through the world, the question I pose is this: was this really such an unthinkable event? From the recent crash of China's markets to the unprecedented drop in oil prices, events of this nature continuously trip up leaders around the world.

Recent CIMA-sponsored research, 'Thinking the unthinkable', examines such scenarios and comes to the conclusion that these events weren't merely unthinkable - they were just unpalatable and therefore leaders were either reluctant or unable to handle them.

This myopic mindset in executives is not only worrying, but dangerous, as it threatens the long-term sustainability of both business and society.

For leadership to spot, identify and effectively handle these non-normative events they must be able to quickly make the right decisions in the face of this rapidly-changing environment. But how do boards and organisations build the resilience and agility that is so vital to ensuring their longevity through the 21st century's unprecedented speed of change? How do they make better decisions to identify and manage unpalatable events such as the Panama Papers?

One solution lies in integrated thinking - the process by which executives unite the most relevant information and people across a business to make effective decisions, while understanding all drivers of value.

For a company to build a long-term value proposition, the right management information which will ensure better decision making is urgently required. This will guarantee the mitigation of risks, allowing leaders to seize opportunities and protect and preserve the value their organisations generate.

The integrated thinking that frameworks such as CIMA's Global Management Accounting Principles provide is fundamental to this - allowing decision makers to cut through silos and facilitate communication, all the while being steered by rigorous, ethical behaviour.

Management accountants, with their role as business partners, are ideally equipped to provide this integrated thinking. With their understanding of all aspects and value drivers of a business, they are central to providing the relevant information at the right time to enable effective decision-making processes - 'joining the dots' and breaking down silos.

To be fully prepared for the new operating environment of 'business as unusual' companies must ensure they are both prepared and that their business models are resilient enough to tackle the challenges of the 21st century. To do this a shift in mindset is long-overdue.

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