Editorial

by Alexander De Beir - Managing Director ADM

It’s the economy, smart people!

Be prepared! Times are changing. 

It is a common feeling many organisations are sharing nowadays: the only certainty within the global economy is its uncertainty. The Brexit, trade wars or threats, political turmoil…. it becomes more difficult than ever before to make reliable business forecasts, even in the short term. 

Technology and digitalisation also accelerate the change within the business models in various domains of activities. Neither the owner of a family business nor a chairperson of a multinational company can lay back anymore with the assurance that their activities remain risk-free. And when time comes to transmit the key of the firm to the next generation, the transition period often appears to be very sensitive.

As a wise man once said, to govern is to foresee. But forecasts only turn out to be effective if they lead to anticipation. And action! To do the right thing. As another wise man once said, to predict the future, you have to know the past.

Elite soldiers on economic missions 

At the end of the nineteenth century, Franz-Joseph the First of Austria composed the best equipped and most impressive army to serve under his orders. But when World War I broke out a few decades later, his army had had no significant opportunities to fight for many years. We all know what happened then. 

Military terms might not be the most appropriate to describe economic issues. Today perfectly trained and prepared elite soldiers with specific skills are the most effective to complete critical missions they are requested to carry out. They excel when it comes to being rapid, flexible and precise. 

This is exactly the way the economic model is going to evolve in a growing number of situations. Companies will temporarily need high profiles with specific skills, who are perfectly trained and skilled for short to mid-term assignments (3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years).  While committed for a relatively short period, independent forces, acting as loyal and dedicated CEOs, CFOs, Operational, Change or Crisis Managers, will have an ever greater impact on the health of companies in the long term.

Empowering instead of employing

This is good news, especially since on the other side of the market, an increasing number of highly qualified, ambitious and courageous individuals is arising. All over the world, in the U.S. or in Asia in particular, the number of independent managers is growing fast. This trend is undoubtedly spreading to Europe and Belgium. 

Traditional relationships between employer and employee are going to change even faster than ever before. The liberalisation of the labour market will speed up.  

According to an American study ,“A vision for the economy of 2040”, conducted by the Kauffman Foundation and Roosevelt Institute, freelance work will prevail over traditional work relations by 2040. In the US, freelance work will have exceeded 50% by 2020. On the longer term, this will have a clear impact on the current revenue taxes system, since companies will remunerate independent people for their hours spent on assignments, no more. 

These temporarily engaged profiles will be empowered by companies to become the owners of the project they have to bring to a good end. In fact, this cultural change in power dynamics is already occurring in relations between employers and employees. After a period of experiences on the payroll, these empowered project owners become well prepared to make the jump to the independent status. A new generation is already gathering the needed experience to be confident and competent enough to become successful self-employed managers. 

Turnaround managers

Again, this is good news. A higher amount of hands-on managers will faster and more easily than ever, respond to organisations experiencing the need for a turnaround. They will be particularly determined to remedy precarious situations, restructure when and where needed, negotiate with unions, visit key accounts and reinforce the organisations for the future. 

They will feel appreciated, rewarded as they deserve, while companies will benefit from their full commitment and knowledge without the need to “own” them anymore.

Yes, times are changing. To become more exciting than ever for those who dare! 

 

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