April 16, 2020 Exercising reasonable care, skill and diligence
It’s one thing to run an organisation when everything is going smoothly, quite another to stay focused in the face of change. And let’s face it, COVID-19 has been the catalyst for multiple challenges and changes over the past month or so. Isolation, home working, demand either falling off a cliff or scaling new heights; the one thing pretty well every organisation can say is that right now things just aren’t normal.
So how do you stay focused when every day requires fresh judgements and new approaches? And how do you know if you are continuing to act in the best interests of your organisation when everything is so fluid with, as yet, no defined end in sight?
When things seem overwhelming that is the time to go back to basics, to focus on what can be done rather than worrying about what can’t. This then is when the duties of a director in exercising reasonable care, skill and diligence come to the fore. Drawing on skills and abilities, on knowledge and training; by making clear and well thought out decisions directors can help to ensure their business stays as far as possible on track.
So it is a time for certainty, for working with people and finding ways to help them to work productively. It is also a time for understanding, of not acting in haste before the full facts are known and then not holding back when it is time to act.
But it is also a time for learning. The rapid deployment of field hospitals and the speed with which businesses have transformed in order to produce much needed equipment for the health service has shown what can be done when the right impetus is there. How did things get done so fast without endless meetings, scoping, reporting and delay? What lessons can we learn about teamwork, or about the way in which shared engagement in outcomes can drive results?
Those delivering much needed back-up for the health service didn’t do so in a slapdash fashion. The same level of care and diligence still applied. The only difference was that the focus was on change, on delivering the possible rather than relying on the status quo. It’s a valuable lesson for all of us; that we can exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence and still move our businesses on at speed.