Anybody who is investing other people’s money should be able to do a better, less risky job than they could do for themselves.
This may perhaps never be less important than at this time, as we enter the third industrial revolution. At this point, everything we face is up for possible disruption, with the forward path for competition highly uncertain and constantly needing to be explored and relearnt.
Transformation to fit this economy is never a single set-and-forget event, and certainly never so for businesses of sufficient scale to warrant investment from a company such as our own.
At this time, I would want to be able to present our business as the embodiment of a Learning Economy investment company, but what might be among the hallmarks of such an investor?
For starters, I would wish consistently to be able to characterise our company as an unparalleled master in its own self-interrogation and learning, and in its articulation to itself about the evolving risks it faces, and about those facing the companies in which it invests.
I would constantly wish to know where in our own processes our own people thought we were strong or weak, and where our practices could be adjusted to make us more knowledgeable about, and responsive to, what is changing in the world around our business.
I would want to be certain that those companies in which we invest had their own plans to compete in their own industries on the basis of their abilities to keep on learning faster than their competitors.
For them not to have such plans or processes in place, or intentions to implement them, would most likely be total deal breakers.
Thus, I would want to know all I could find out about their own learning, so I could justify those investments to our investors, and to begin to make our scrutiny of our investments more central to the story we tell those whose money we are handling.
I would want to be able to pool questions from my colleagues and to be able to transform these into running investigations of those running the investee companies, such that we could build our body of understanding of their businesses and to use our influence to begin to direct their own learning agendas and programs.
I would wish to build our learning on this basis and to build our expertise for asking better questions of those in which we invest to strengthen our own interrogative exercises. Thus, I would aim to build our reputation such that we were at all times at least equal best of breed, and among the learning leaders in our industry.
I would want to know that our processes elicited and made sense, resulting in comprehensible reports written in the simplest possible English that had been tested and checked, and that could be understood with the least possible additional interpretation by the widest audience possible.
On the basis of our Learning Economy research to date, I’ve not found one financial services company that meets this standard.
As such, obviously, this is just the beginning of a conversation, but what could you add to it?