Agents of change

Nilusha Ranasinghe

Nilusha Ranasinghe is the Head of ACCA South Asia

The COVID-19 crisis has transformed the world of work, disrupting how we run businesses and organisations. Good financial management and business decision-­making skills, with sustainability and ethics at their heart, have become more critical than ever.

And the same applies to digital mastery, dealing with disruption, and the ability to work well with people of all generations and backgrounds.

Elaborating on this, Nilusha Rana­singhe remarks: “At the heart of each of these is speed – i.e. getting things done quickly and well. Organisations need to remove boundaries, break down silos, establish streamlined decisions and processes, and empower front line leaders.”

She believes that an organisation designed for speed will see powerful outcomes including greater customer responsiveness, enhanced capabilities, and better performance in terms of cost efficiency, revenue streams and return on capital.

Across almost every aspect of business, professional accountants have been central to helping organisations navigate everything from challenging and competitive operating environments, to ethically creating and sustaining value streams, she adds.

Ranasinghe continues: “Equally, the profession has deployed its fundamental stewardship responsibilities to protect the value created and manage risk, and communicate organisational action and performance in a transparent, reliable and responsible way, thereby enabling stakeholders to make much better informed judgements.”

“The profession has been at the heart of driving greater corporate accountability and responsibility, building stakeholder trust in organisations and those who lead them,” she asserts.

Ranasinghe states that the main pillars of a dynamic organisation should consist of executing excellence, a flatter structure, empowered teams, and quick and agile people who are enabled with the right structures, processes and culture that will make it possible for the entire system to move rapidly.

Commenting on who should take the lead, she maintains: “Since leadership is one of the most important elements of forming and directing corporate strategy, culture and governance, it should often be a shared responsibility among leaders who are responsible to a wide range of stakeholders and shareholders, as well as employees, in meeting organisational goals.”

Organisational culture is guided by core principles and requires assessing existing conditions, making changes to align actions with objectives and deriving positive results. It is a set of shared beliefs and values that everyone buys into, and works on.

When it comes to dynamic workplace cultures, she explains that culture is said to make or break businesses; and a strong culture nurtures happy employees, placing an organisation on the path to success.

“To ensure the smooth functioning of a business in this environment, dynamic strategies have to be implemented because they help ensure that a company can respond appropriately to changes that may represent both potential opportunities and new threats to its operations,” muses Ranasinghe.

To be sustainable, organisations need to proactively and positively navigate the dynamic forces of change. Changes such as the rapid advancement of technology – which is revolutionising business and finance capabilities – are enabling enhanced data insights, and driving new opportunities and business models.

Social and environmental concerns like renewed efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mean that organisations have to think and behave very differently.

“Global systemic shocks such as COVID-19 challenge all of us to act swiftly but consistently to mitigate risks. In essence, corporate dynamism is a process of continual but relatively small efforts to implement change, which involves a reconfiguration of existing practices and business models rather than the creation of new options,” she states.

And Ranasinghe sums up: “Dyna­mic companies can ensure their business responds appropriately, and is prepared to manage changes that may represent both potential opportunities and new threats to its operations. They can adjust to their markets by remaining dynamic and updating strategies as changes in their environments dictate.”