Companies Can’t Be Parasites Anymore
Stephen Miles is the founder and chief executive officer of The Miles Group. Previously, he was a vice chairman at Heidrick & Struggles and ran Leadership Advisory Services. With more than 15 years of experience in assessment, executive coaching, top-level succession planning, organizational effectiveness and strategy consulting, Stephen specializes in CEO succession and has partnered with numerous boards of global Fortune 500 companies to ensure that a successful leadership selection and transition occurs. He has also led many chairman successions and board effectiveness reviews, partnering with boards of directors to help them with their overall effectiveness, committee effectiveness and individual director effectiveness.
Stephen is a recognized expert on the role of the chief operating officer, and has consulted numerous companies on the establishment and the effectiveness of the position and supporting the transition from COO to effective CEO. He is a coach to many CEOs and COOs around the world, and his clients cut across all industry sectors.
Stephen and his CEO advisory services were profiled in the Bloomberg Businessweek article “The Rising Star of CEO Consulting." Prior to The Miles Group and Heidrick & Struggles, Stephen held various positions at Andersen Consulting.
Question: How can CEOs combat the popular image that businesses are evil?
Stephen Miles: So I think the GFC, the global financial crisis created a sense of evil almost in corporations and that evil has diffused to the regular company. It’s not just financial services anymore. This is a broad based issue for every CEO in every industry and I think what really matters from a CEO perspective in terms of brand image and corporate responsibility is taking this seriously and what I mean by that is this can’t be a veneer. You can’t just sort of poke through the veneer and find out that actually what you’re talking about is not what your company is really about, so there has to be this redwood behind all the statements that you make around your corporate image and I think CEOs need to think broadly about value creation now. It’s not just about shareholder value creation. It’s broader than that. It’s how am I creating value for the society that I operate in, in the communities that I operate in? How am I creating value for my employees? How am I creating value for the broader world if you will if you’re a global organization? And you can’t just think about extracting shareholder value.
There needs to be a symbiotic relationship between the corporation and all of its stakeholders, whoever they happen to be and I think again that is a change because we’ve been- beaten into us in every MBA program it’s about shareholder value, how do you create shareholder value. It’s about financial metrics and all of those things matter and you can’t get distracted by all of the noise. You still have to run a profitable company because profitable companies allow you to hire more employees, give more back to the communities that you work in and do great things, so you need that profit motive, but then what, so it needs to be the profit motive plus how am I going to create broad stakeholder value as opposed to simply shareholder value.
Question: What has changed in the world such that businesses now have to think more about stakeholder value?
Stephen Miles: So what has really changed in the world that we operate in today is this connected real time and I mean real time by the second, information era and CEOs today, everything is captured by the second, by the minute and put up on the web for everybody to see, so you’re literally operating in this aquarium and everybody’s commentary is about you and the decisions that you make and are they consistent with the messaging that you’re giving out, so I refer back to this parasitic versus symbiotic. If you have a message that says you’re a symbiotic company and you’re doing these things you’re going to be called out every single day in real time, every minute whether that is actually true or not, so you have to be consistent and you have to, as I say, you need a redwood behind the veneer because everything you do is going to be tested every day and it’s going to be tested by millions of people and it’s going to be up there forever. There is no sort of tabula rasa; it doesn’t just go to a blank slate after you’re done. It stays up there and is on the record if you will, forever, so as CEOs you need to think differently about how you think about corporate social responsibility, how you think about the messaging and brand of your company because A); you’re going to be tested on it everyday and B); people inside and outside your company are going to evaluate and give you a grade and that grade is a public grade, so I think it’s really, really important for CEOs to take this personally very seriously.
Recorded January 12, 2011
Interviewed by Max Miller
Directed by Jonathan Fowler
Produced by Elizabeth Rodd
The global financial crisis and the Internet have transformed the relationship between business and stakeholder. The CEO Whisperer offers his advice on how to navigate through this brave new world.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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