I've been a bit remiss in blogging. I've been traveling much of May and June, but am happy to be back at it!
Last week I was facilitating an annual offsite planning session for an executive leadership team. The session was fantastic. We were able to redefine the mission and vision statements to make them more concise, memorable and in alignment with where they want to go. I confess however, I was a bit distracted by all the Brexit news.
On Friday, after all the votes were counted, I was stunned to learn that the U.K. decided to leave the EU. As I was driving to the offsite, I couldn't shake the deep underlying feeling that things are never going to be the same — that somehow things in Europe, the US, and frankly in the global economy are forever changed.
On the surface, it appears likely that for some time, Brexit will not affect the average person, other than perhaps providing some welcome relief from the US presidential election in the news cycles. But digging a little deeper, I think there are some pretty big implications.
The obvious one is how it effects global financial markets, but there are other significant challenges. Having spent almost 90% of my career working for companies that had global operations, including a significant presence in Europe which was almost always run out of the U.K., there are a host of unknowns that are now in play. How those operations can and should be run, impact on local employees, decisions on where to locate European HQs, and how all this affects sales and revenue recognition and currency fluctuations for trade in EU countries are just a few. One thing is sure, the lawyers are going to make a killing on fees trying to figure it all out.
There are other social and political ramifications. Scotland and Northern Ireland are already talking about new referendums to leave the U.K., other countries are launching initiatives to evaluate leaving the EU, and even our own presidential candidates are using it as a leverage point to serve their political agenda. The world map could actually look different in 2 years time.
Beyond all that, there are some interesting business lessons in this whole Brexit phenomenon. Having had the unpleasant experience of unraveling a corporate merger, I can validate that it's easier to get married than it is to divorce. Understanding these implications should give us pause before we consummate mergers or acquisitions. Like in life - don't get married to the wrong person.
Operationally, we should consider the implications of significant changes in geopolitical landscapes and how they will effect our businesses. How are trade agreements, tariffs, freedom of movement, and taxes affected by the changes in the market landscape? Do we have a change management process in place to quickly evaluate and take action should something change? How will the EU and their influence change in regards to global economic, social and political activities?
The Brexit vote is just the tip of the iceberg. When and how it's implemented and the short and long-term implications will be interesting to watch. Hopefully we will find opportunities for growth amidst all the turmoil!
Steve is a husband, father, and business exec. He loves anything outdoors, anything that is a hard challenge, and enjoys working with anyone who wants to continually improve. And golf. He loves golf. Steve is the founder and CEO of Executive Advisory Partners.