An article written by Ian Kilbride
With some justification, business is accused of over-reliance on data and metrics to make sense of complexity. South African companies have been slow to appreciate the importance of ‘softer’ skills particularly with respect to stakeholder engagement, diversity and conflict management. Yet, for all its obviously limitations, data and metrics provide a reasonably objective, measurable and transparent methodology for internal and external stakeholders to understand and rate company performance. Adherence to and compliance with a demanding set of reporting criteria are prerequisites for a JSE listing and ongoing share valuations. Investors expect and demand not only clarity and transparency of company accounts, but a clear strategic vision for growth and sustainability, marked by quarterly, six-monthly or annual forecasts and reporting. Such disciplines can be brutal, demanding and burdensome, but they are fundamentally fair and honest. Failure to meet forecasts results in investor punishment. Conversely, company outperformance generates greater dividends, higher valuations with a host of attendant benefits to stakeholders.