+Scott Watson

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Inside the Dragon's Den

In case you have not heard about “Dragons’ Den”, it is a British TV series showcasing the efforts of several entrepreneurs to convince investors (the Dragons) to fund their ideas. Think “American Idol” with business ideas rather than songs. Same amount of abuse, too.

Last month I was invited to participate in a jury at a French Business School that evaluated “mock” investement funds that were based on financial, but also environmental, social, societal and sustainability aspects. Twenty-three teams of students presented their ideas about which companies they thought had the greatest potential to do well, while adhering to stringent non-financial criteria.

It was an eye-opener!

Even while taking the current financial crisis into account, funds that focused on companies with high ethical standards of internal and external behaviour did and are expected to do better than those only focused on financial criteria. It really warmed my heart to hear that and I thought that if students learn such lessons before starting their careers, they might focus on those important ethical issues that are often overlooked when you are in the thick of the daily business grind. This might lead to a gentler invisible hand guiding the markets in future.

And the nicest bit of information was that those companies that are expected to do well and do so on a higher ethical level than other companies, also had the highest training budget! :-)

Counterintuitive? Maybe, but very much in line with the findings of Boston Consulting Group, as publishes in People Management magazine in April 2009 (page 9).

In that report, executives were asked which cost-cutting measures worked during the last recession. Cutting back on training did not! On the contrary, it led to a decline in employee engagement.

We have to keep in mind that training is not just a way to enhance employees' skills, but also their motivation levels. If we don't invest in their development, what kind of message that does that send about how much we value them?

No comments:

Post a Comment