Business competition is intense. It is competitively differentiated board and C-Suite talent which develops differentiated strategies, business models, plans, and successfully executes them.
Few companies survive the competition.
Most public companies will not survive. A
- A Fortune 500 company will survive an average of 16 years.
- The typical half-life of a North American public company is 10 years.
- Global public companies with $250 million+ market cap have a typical half-life of 10 years.
- 50% of all U.S. companies survive for 5 years.
Most venture-backed start-ups will fail.B
- Three quarters of venture backed firms in the U.S. don’t return investors capital.
- 30-40% of high potential start-ups lose all of the investors money. Many start-ups do not have any venture-backing. The overall start-up failure rate is very high.
Few companies generate significant value.
- McKinsey analyzed the world’s 2,393 largest corporations from 2010 to 2014. The top 20% generated 158% of the total economic value (i.e. profit after cost of capital) created by those corporations. The middle 60% generated 16% of the total economic value. The bottom 20% lost 74% of the total.C
- Mark Leonard, CEO of Constellation Software, his final annual CEO letter. “Qualified and competent Directors are very rare, and not surprisingly, the track record of most boards is awful. According to the 2017 Hendrik Bessembinder study of approximately 26,000 stocks in the CRSP database, only 4% of the stocks generated all of the stock market’s return in excess of one – month T-Bills during the last 90 years. The other 96% of the stocks generated, in aggregate, the T-bill rate over that period. This means that 4% of boards oversaw all he long-term wealth creation by markets during that period. Even more disturbing, the boards for over 50% of public companies saw their businesses generate negative returns during their entire existence as public companies.” http://www.csisoftware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Presidents-Letter-April-2018-Final.pdf
CEO and leadership development programs are ineffective.
7% of CEOs believe their companies are building effective global leaders. Only 10% of CEOs say their leadership development initiatives have a clear business impact. Just 11% of global executives agree that their leadership-development interventions achieve and sustain the desired results.D
Board direction selection and development processes are broken.
A McKinsey survey of board directors revealed that “Only 16 percent said directors strongly understood the dynamics of their industries, just 22 percent said directors were aware of how their firms created value, and a mere 34 percent said directors fully comprehended their companies’ strategies.”E
Boards must also consider the company’s role in society.
Larry Fink articulated the challenge in his 2018 letter to the CEOs of Blackock’s investee companies. “Furthermore, the board is essential to helping a company articulate and pursue its purpose…..Companies must ask themselves: What role do we play in the community? How are we managing our impact on the environment? Are we working to create a diverse workforce? Are we adapting to technological change? Are we providing the retraining and opportunities that our employees and our business will need to adjust to an increasingly automated world? Are we using behavioral finance and other tools to prepare workers for retirement, so that they invest in a way that will help them achieve their goals?”F
1981 US Business Roundtable Statement on Corporate Responsibility: “Corporations have a responsibility, first of all, to make available to the public quality goods and services at fair prices, thereby earning a profit that attracts investment to continue and enhance the enterprise, provide jobs, and build the economy.” “Business and society have a symbiotic relationship: The long-term viability of the corporation depends upon its responsibility to the society of which it is a part. The well-being of society also depends upon profitable and responsible business enterprises.”G
External talent must also be part of your talent pool.
No company has all of the talent it requires. External talent can include: your personal network, advisory board, strategic advisors, consultants, lawyers, accountants and other experts.
What do you do about it?
- Determine the talent needed over the next 5-10 years on the board and in the C-Suite, in order to grow long-term value and beat the competition.
- What’s the talent your company has (both internally and externally)?
- How do you close the gap with a combination of internal and external talent?
- What talent and processes need to go in place to ensure the gap does not reappear?
This sounds easy, but incredibly difficult to do in practice.
A “Corporate Longevity”, Credit Suisse, February 7, 2017
B “The venture capital secret : 3 out of 4 start-ups fail”, Deborah Gage, Wall Street Journal Small Business, September 19, 2012 discusses research by Shikhar Ghosh, Harvard Business School
C Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smit, “Strategy to beat the odds”, McKinsey Quarterly February 2018, https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/strategy-to-beat-the-odds , Tom Koor analysis
D Claudio Feser, Nicolai Nielsen, and Michael Rennie, “What’s missing in leadership development?”, McKinsey Quarterly August 2017, https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/leadership/whats-missing-in-leadership-development
E Eric Kutcher, “Corporate Boards need a facelift”, McKinsey May 4, 2018, https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/the-strategy-and-corporate-finance-blog/corporate-boards-need-a-facelift
F Larry Fink’s 2019 letter to CEOs – purpose and profit https://www.blackrock.com/corporate/investor-relations/2019-larry-fink-ceo-letter
G Ralph Gomory and Richard Sylla, “The American Corporation”, April 2013, page 6, The Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/50b74ca9c91e6TheAmericanCorporation11292012.doc.pdf