Gustavo Ballvé on July 17th, 2012
Corporate Strategy, Food for thought, Home, Mental models, Quotes

In April 2011 I published a video interview with Dr. Chris Gibson-Smith that I thought had very interesting insights, especially on teamwork and leadership. Now the London Business School’s Business Strategy Review magazine has a profile/interview with him that’s far more wide-ranging and, to my taste, more interesting. His background is pretty interesting and I like the way he blends many disciplines, including History, into his “toolkit”. Granted, he seems very adapted to role of Chairman versus that of a CEO, in the sense that he’s more of a “vision”/overall strategy person and apparently leads by “harmonious questioning”.

Some interesting tidbits inside. One quote I really like was also alluded to in last year’s interview: I think the questions you ask are always the most difficult thing; answering the question is somehow easy if you’ve found the right question.  There are 100 wrong questions for you to grab onto and completely waste your time with, but if at the beginning you can find the right question…”

‘Pushed to describe his chairing style, Gibson-Smith defines it as “incisive collegiality” – “It’s about aligned, cooperative, team-based examination of the issues and challenges in which I have no wish to take away the leadership role of the chief executive.  So they get that collegiality from me, but they get it in the context of my business capability.” ‘

“Business is the wealth-creating vehicle for society. Wealth creation is no more than doing things for each other. I may be producing iron ore, or I may be serving a table, but they only work if I’m doing them for the wider community.  We’ve invented the system of money which measures the value of the contribution that’s being made, but all that contribution is about my doing something for you.  And so to not understand that business is the vehicle through which this gets done most and best and most efficiently is not to see the profound role that it has in any society.” (…) “Business adds the human dimension without which the data and the science go nowhere; and that’s what I think is so interesting and magical about it.”

“Making money is a consequence of my amused participation. I have followed my curiosity more than my ambition.  And I think that’s a more winding trail.”

“You can’t be a modern businessman without profound grounding: grounding in strategic thinking, accounting principles, finance, macroeconomics, microeconomics, human behaviour, organisational behaviour. You shouldn’t wait to acquire it by accident. – Note: I added the emphasis.

‘ “Business is a team-based enterprise; there are almost no exceptions.” ‘

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