Bold and true reform

8 June 2010
Credibility. Some people have got it and some have not. It’s possible to earn it, but just as easy to lose it. Barbara Kux clearly has it in spades. Fortune magazine named her the sixth most powerful businesswoman in the world, and she is Siemens’ first female board member in its 161-year history. Her track record at companies including McKinsey & Company, Ford and Philips, as well as her international experience in general management doubtless all helped lead to her appointment at Siemens. There, she is head of supply chain management and chief sustainability officer, endowed with the power and responsibility to transform purchasing – work on which is well under way. She says the qualifications and characteristics most appropriate for senior supply chain roles differ from firm to firm, but credibility, I’d argue, is vital. And the stock of the team at Sainsbury’s must have just risen also. The department, headed by David Brooks, chose not to bring in consultants to achieve the transformation necessary to make them world class, realising they would win more support if they did the job themselves. “Since then, one or two other CPOs have shared with me that [business change] is more effective if you can deliver it yourself,” says Brooks. To do this, they must have had the support of the Sainsbury’s leadership team. And presumably now they’ve earned that independent ranking, their credibility has only been underlined. To win trust and authority, you need the chance to prove yourself and then, you actually have to do it. You need to be able to make realistic but confident commitments and see them through. With that in mind, I hope when details of the pledges, and later achievements, from the UK’s new Efficiency Reform Group are announced, they are bold and true. The group will have “the power to make sure departments work together”. This is an exciting and much-needed development, we’ll watch its progress with interest.
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