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CANADIAN MINING PERSPECTIVES: Seeing past corners

Have you ever wondered what your boss was thinking in making a certain decision, or where his/her boss came up with...


Have you ever wondered what your boss was thinking in making a certain decision, or where his/her boss came up with the strategic plan thats causing everyone a bunch of extra work? Wouldnt it be interesting to know whats going on in their minds?

Well, now you can, sort of, by reading the results of candid interviews with a select group of CEOs that were used to prepare the 10th annual PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS Global CEO Survey, released this week. The panel was asked to review the last decade of surveys and draw some lessons for today and tomorrow.

Many CEOs seek the counsel of trusted outsiders to help shape their vision and validate their strategic course. For example, Andrew Liveris of DOW CHEMICAL CO. describes how he typically contacts a group of wise men. I think all of us have, in our lives, go-to people like them. Frankly, I think CEOs need them desperately, because its a very lonely job.

The panel identified some key actions that are the mark of todays successful business leaders.

– Capture data from every source, both internal and external. Draw on the knowledge of your front-line staff and get it fresh to the boardroom table.
– Dedicate specific resources to analyzing internal and external data sources, to understand their implications for your firm.
– Develop your own filter that winnows out the less relevant data, and use third parties inside and outside the company to shape or validate your conclusions.
– Rethink your decision-making processes, and question whether you are keeping up with the pace of change in your industry.
– Encourage a culture at all levels of the organization that accepts change as inevitable, and which offers incentives to the risk-takers.

The CEOs identified the ability to anticipate change as the single most important responsibility any business leader should have. To forecast accurately is without doubt the critical skill of a manager and a key determinant of career success, says Alexander Bulygin, CEO of RUSAL. Liveris, who is chairman and CEO of Dow, starkly describes the challenge facing CEOs: Were paid to look around not one corner, but two.

How about those unforeseen disasters that can upset the best laid plans? Says Ian Bremmer, president of EURASIA GROUP: A shock in a far flung part of the world can have much more dramatic implications today than it did 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Shocks come faster and they can be bigger. So if you are lousy at predicting shocks, it makes it more imperative that the CEO is ahead of the curve on emerging trends.

The panel sees the empowerment of employees as a key ingredient in developing a culture that acceptsand even embraceschange. Many of the CEOs speak of the need to empower their people with the skills and confidence to take the necessary risks, responding to global trends and change, and to reward them accordingly.

You can find out more about whats on the minds of executives by reading the entire set of interviews from PricewaterhouseCoopers at http://www.pwc.com/extweb/pwcpublications.nsf/docid/FC5959262D44D4AB8525729E0057FF73. The report is free, although you have to fill out a short form to get it. Now celebrating 100 years of excellence in Canada, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (www.pwc.com/ca) and its related entities have more than 4,700 partners and staff in offices across the country.


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