Saturday, April 28, 2007

No low tech

I recently joined the board of directors of a group of companies that has been around for 8 generations of the founding family. Part of the business is really "just" bulk international commerce, an activity many people in the so-called "high-tech" businesses would consider as "simple" and "low tech". Having now a more detailed view of the strategic issues of the group's businesses, the impacts a rapidly changing environment can have on its performance, the commercial, operational and financial challenges, I can only testify to the fact that there is no such thing as a low tech business. The number of parameters to monitor and to get right is simply mind-boggling.
The session of the board that I attended a couple of days ago has been an amazing experience for me, as it's been a prime opportunity to discover a bit more of the business and to meet a few very impressive board directors who are also serving the group. Perhaps the most moving encounter I had was that of a gentleman who just stepped down after over sixty years of service: the incarnation of a part of the group's history. One of the things I heard (and liked a lot) during the board meeting was a deep held belief that I share: good business performance is first and foremost about having the right people on board. A corollary of that is that everything dealing with human potential management (recruitment, training & evolution, performance assessment, team dynamics...) belongs to the most critical and most strategically important processes a business can have in today. No doubt I will learn a lot serving in such a business environement; I just hope I can bring as much value as is rightfully expected of me.

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