Publication Tomorrow’s Relationships: Unlocking value

by Luke Robinson _______1st June 2014

Executive Summary

In partnership with KPMG, CIMA, CIPD and Linklaters

People are our greatest asset – how often have we heard this from leaders and then seen evidence from the behaviours of the organisations they lead which suggests otherwise?

We need to close the gap between what is said and what is done to build relationships that are resilient and robust to ensure lasting success for the business over the short, medium and long term. This requires authenticity, trust and engagement in relationships.

Most fundamentally, our convictions are that it is not organisations that have relationships – it is the people within and between those organisations. This means that a relationship with another person cannot simply be a means to an end, but is a worthwhile aim in itself; and that a ‘stakeholder’ is not an object, but a subject with whom mutual respect unlocks value that is created together.

We’re not alone in our view that business is all about relationships, and it is now commonly acknowledged that four-fifths of the market value of a business is in ‘intangibles’.

But all too often business processes undervalue or erode relationships, increasing risk, reducing resilience, destroying value. Many organisations are feeling their way forward making explicit these issues and seeking a practical approach.

We recognise that there is much that has been written about human and social capital, and other aspects of people and relationships. While this is valuable, there is a gap. There is little understanding of how relationships contribute to sustainable business success or work that looks at relationships more holistically and considers how to systematically develop effective relationships.

This guide, Tomorrow’s Relationships, seeks to recognise the full value of relationships. It provides a practical resource for boards and senior management teams to help them map the relationships of their business understand how and why they are important and help them decide what to do next.

Recognising the fundamental importance of relationships, and doing so in the way we set out, means rethinking how business is done – from boards to executives and beyond, from governance to supply chains. As we have been working together we have become conscious of how ‘business as usual’ can work against a relational approach. Relationships are dynamic, ambiguous and often require language that is uncomfortable in business. Business traditionally tends to put things into categories and to plan in straight lines. Relationships, however, need to be understood and navigated intuitively as well as analytically. We need to recognise that we sometimes feel awkward when talking about relationships. Yet if we work to make the relationship more effective for both parties, the effect is transformational.

We hope that Tomorrow’s Relationships helps inform a different understanding of the value of people in your business – for their own success as well as that of the business and the communities of which your business is a part.