Returning to work this week after a much-needed holiday, I was pleased to see reports from Deloitte and EY that business leaders across the UK are feeling more confident about our nation’s economic future than at any time since pre-pandemic. I’m sure like myself, many of you are currently working through end-of-year financial reviews, and as we look ahead to another business year, such confidence, optimism and determination will be crucial to success. However, we should note that CFOs are still cautious and prioritising revenue protection over investing for future growth. Hopefully, as confidence in the UK economy continues to grow, this will soon change, as we need to take balanced risks and start to really drive forward.
I was lucky enough on my recent break to travel through Japan and South Korea. I was struck by the confident attitude amongst the people and businesses there, and, in South Korea in particular, the real commitment to delivering a better future and a strong can-do attitude.
Undoubtedly, we, as UK business leaders, along with the rest of the world, have faced a challenging few years. The implications of Brexit, the pandemic, war in Europe, supply chain issues and the cost of living crisis have left long-lasting issues on our businesses and lives. At times, it has felt like a continual cycle of firefighting. As external factors begin to settle, along with some of the economic unpredictability that marked the start of the year, we can lift our heads and focus more on the longer term, breaking the cycle of firefighting. Thinking about what we need to grow our businesses sustainably – which is our fourth pillar of the Service Nation.
There will undoubtedly be further challenges ahead and we must not forget the lessons we have learnt. It is our attitude and approach to tackling them that will mark the difference between success and failure. It is time to break the cycle of short-term fixes and turn our attention to how we set our organisations on the path to a prosperous future. So rather than retreating into our shells as business or simply being content with ‘how things are’, we should be actively innovating and continuously Improving. I urge us all, as leaders and with our teams, to embed the lessons learned and put in place processes and ideas to drive the Service Nation forward.