Culture – accelerate towards your goal or your ‘hand on the tiller’ is useless

By Fraser Doig

With culture and governance continuing to rank highly on the FCA’s list of priorities, it’s frequently been said that if you get the management and development of your people right, the desired ‘culture’ will follow. So how can technology help? 

Buying my first Zapcat taught me a valuable lesson; outboard engines only steer when they are accelerating. When I put the boat in the water for the first time, I opened up the throttle and was instantly out of control. There was so much spray I could hardly see a thing. I wasn’t wearing any protective clothing or a life jacket. In a bid to gain some control of the boat I slipped and pushed the tiller hard to the right. I now found I was heading towards the bank at break-neck speed. So I immediately let go of the throttle, meaning I now had even less chance of gaining control. Upon impact with the bank I was flung 30 feet from the water, thankfully narrowly missing a group of spectators, sadly a new sailing yacht wasn’t so lucky, I virtually wrote it off.

It was a valuable lesson in accountability; I wasn’t competent, I was a risk of significant harm, I wasn’t compliant with any number of obligations like having insurance or a licence. I was not fit or proper.

The experience cost me several thousand pounds. After the event, I immediately went on a training course which in comparison cost me only £280. It would have been nice to have done that bit first!

So a bit like powerboats, firms are travelling at speed over increasingly choppy waters – changing regulation and scrutiny of their culture are creating uncharted risks. Therefore, firms need to find ways to manage these risks holistically. You can’t cherry-pick aspects of regulation and governance such as SMR, Accountability, RemCode, Culture or Performance Management and do one of these well, and forget the others. They are all facets of the same challenge. Firms are beginning to expect technology to help them out. Firms need to be considering where their existing technology infrastructure is letting them down and find new technologies and ways to help their people manage their people, because that will give them the cultural improvements needed.

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