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Tri-Livery Digital Media Group Panel Debate - 14 September 2021

The Tri-Livery Digital Media Group presented 'Leading business through the New Normal’ with Shravan Joshi MBE, Trevor Fenwick, Tom Ilube CBE and Natalie Ceeney CBE.  The Chair,  Jenny Ashmore, reflected thus:

It was a thrill for me to chair this amazing group of panelists on a topic that is at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the moment. The level of the questions and engagement from all of the attendees from across the three livery companies, and guests, was an indication of its importance, timeliness and usefulness.

There was very fast agreement from everyone that this is a moment of disruptive change – and that it represents a huge opportunity for innovation, both in terms of growing new businesses and in terms of doing things differently at a business and societal level.

However, the interesting parts often lie in the tensions. There was clearly a tension between the joys of the flexibility and focus from remote working, with the underlying ‘glue’ that comes from being together physically – especially at key points in the selling cycle, business calendar and decision-making process. There was strong agreement across the panel that personal responsibility lies at the core of success for everyone – individuals and organisations alike. But the road-map to create this in a hybrid world; to embrace the diversity of views and respect the individual, whilst delivering as a part of a high-performance team and to get all of the team back into the office when needed was clearly a tightrope walk that was occupying considerable time and effort for each panelist.

I was very interested in the way that the layers of corporate culture, national culture, personality and inclusion kept coming around in loops as we covered the different areas of the questions.

It was clear that leadership styles have to evolve, and the culture metrics that the panel suggested for Boards to add to their scorecards covered getting deep into what is working & not working within the culture, tracking that we are bringing more diverse talent into the organisation and especially leadership roles, and measuring whether every single one of those people recruited feels the sense of belonging that enables them to bring their full potential to the challenges and risk-taking required for success.

Throughout, there was a sense that the trends are not new, but that the rate of change has been considerably accelerated. This clearly impacts the City of London and it was fascinating to hear the changes that are already happening, and also to reflect on the changes and evolutions in other cities across the world. The significant evolution in ‘streetscape’ and usage of property strikes me personally as one of the areas that is undergoing some of the most exciting change, and if we can use this moment to agree on the goals for managing space and congestion, technology in transportation and evolving work patterns could step-change congestion, safety, air quality and environmental impact.

I think that the call made by a couple of panelists on how not to leave people behind is one that we all need to pay attention to, as sometimes in our rush to the positives we can initially miss the ‘unintended consequences’. This included views on whether women will be better able to access leadership roles in a more flexible world, the impact for those who do not have the luxury of being able to enjoy the benefits of flexibility, and for those who the demise of cash and rise of digital payments makes day-to-day living very difficult.

I think that the call to action for everyone is to take personal responsibility to hold on to the good bits (for example the efficiencies and lor carbon footprint of digital meetings and digital contracting in so many sectors), whilst paying close attention to the evolution needed in culture, leadership and sense of team for everyone to move forward together, not leaving people behind.

If you missed the event and woudl like to watch, please click the image below.