In 1995 the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts,
Manufactures and Commerce) published the findings of its Inquiry
by a group of British business leaders into Tomorrow's Company
- The Role of Business in a Changing World. The Inquiry, chaired
by Sir Anthony Cleaver, was triggered by an urgent need to improve
the sustainable competitive performance of UK companies. Its conclusion
was that there was no simple technical formula for success. Instead,
what each company needed was an inclusive relationship with customers,
employees, suppliers, investors and the wider community.
The Centre for Tomorrow's Company was set up in 1996 to inspire
and enable companies to implement that agenda. Its director is
Mark Goyder, the programme director of the RSA Inquiry. Bill works
closely with Mark and the Centre, supporting its research programme.
Bill researched and wrote the materials that accompany the eight-part
BBC video series Building Tomorrow's Company. These contain
an audit tool to serve as a trigger from which a company's development
action may spring. Contact Bill for further information. (Also
see the resources section
and the Centre
for Tomorrow's Company web site.)
Here is a short extract from the Introduction to the series:
'What should a 'tomorrow's company' be like?'
This question lies at the heart of a critical debate about what
will make companies successful and relevant in a future that is
fast changing and ever more demanding. The discussion is fundamental
to the world of business and to all those impacted by it. This
includes a company's customers, employees, suppliers, investors,
and its local community - that is, all its 'stakeholders'. The
question matters for wider society too, for public policy makers,
the City, lobby groups, educators and business school students,
who are tomorrow's wealth creators.
Success for businesses, as for individuals, will be summed up
in the paradox of permanence… Companies will have earned their
lasting place in a dizzy, complex, and critical world because,
somewhere deep down, people feel they have integrity. Products
will be changing far too quickly for businesses to be differentiated
on the quality of products alone. Businesses will stand out from
the pack because, in all the relationships which are crucial to
their success, people know what they stand for and can identify
with them. (Mark Goyder (1988): Living Tomorrow's Company)
Yet there is no single answer to the question of what characterises
tomorrow's successful company. Entrepreneurs, boards and leaders
need to work out their own answers to some fundamental questions.
- What does the company really stand for?
- Where does the company's success come from?
- Which are the relationships that can make or break the
- How can the company measure how successful it is with
key relationships: customers, employees, investors, suppliers
- To whom is the board responsible - shareholders, the
company or other stakeholders?
- How does the company communicate about its social impact
as well as its financial performance?
For information about the BBC video series Building Tomorrow's
Company, and information about the centre, click