The pursuit of shareholder value is attracting criticism—not all of it foolish

30. November 2012

Date: 29-11-2012
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter
Subject: Taking the long view

HE IS the chief executive of a multinational corporation, but Paul Polman sometimes sounds more like a spokesman for Occupy Wall Street. The boss of Unilever (an Anglo-Dutch consumer-goods firm with brands ranging from Timotei shampoo to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream) agonises about unemployment, global warming and baby-boomer greed. He puts some of the blame for these ills on the most influential management theory of the past three decades: the idea that companies should aim above all else to maximise returns to shareholders.

He appears to mean it. Since taking charge in 2009, Mr Polman has stopped Unilever from publishing full financial results every quarter. He refuses to offer earnings guidance to equity analysts. He has introduced a lengthy “sustainable living plan” and attracted a new cadre of long-term investors, particularly in emerging markets. He even told an audience in Davos that hedge-fund managers would sell their own grandmothers to make a profit. Read the rest of this entry »


Roger Martin Interview

28. July 2011

“The Model of Capitalism is Broken!”

Interview about his latest book “Fixing the Game” in “Thinkers 50”


Management by Imagination

19. January 2010

11:07 AM Tuesday January 19, 2010, HBR Blog 
by Roger Martin

The perception that good management is closely linked to good measurement runs deep. How often do you hear these old saws repeated: “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t count”; “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”; “If you can’t measure it, it won’t happen”? We like these sayings because they’re comforting. The act of measurement provides security; if we know enough about something to measure it we almost certainly have some control over it.

But however comforting it can be to stick with what we can measure, we run the risk of expunging something really important. What’s more, we won’t see what we’re missing because we don’t know what it is that we don’t know. By sticking simply to what we can measure, we come to imagine a small and constrained world in which we are prisoners of a “reality” that is in fact an edifice we’ve unknowingly constructed around ourselves.

Read the rest of this entry »