Business acumen. Business sense. Business savvy. It is an instinctive trait and also a skill developed over time through seasoned judgement gained by learning from mistakes and capitalizing on successes.
I was enjoying a walk with a close friend and accomplished CEO last week discussing the topic of business sense. My friend serves on several major corporate boards, and he shared with me that one of his Fortune 500 boards will soon be looking for a new director. I asked my friend if they will be looking for someone with cybersecurity experience – a key skill that many board nominating/governance committees have been prioritizing recently. His response was unexpected. “No,” he said, “we have a handle on that. But what we are looking for is someone with a really good business sense.”
Our discussion got me thinking about what it means to have good business sense.
For the same reason you want a trained surgeon operating on you, and a trained, experienced attorney representing you, a director serving on a corporate board should have:
- experience in the trenches negotiating deals
- the ability to build and sustain relationships
- a track record of knowing what it takes to motivate employees
- the ability to articulate and execute business strategies
- a demonstrated ability to deliver results, and
- a global perspective on the interconnectedness of how business gets done
Whether you are a successful entrepreneur or rose through the ranks of established corporations, good business sense means knowing how to “follow the dollar” — from research and development to launching products or services and achieving profits.
Good business sense also means staying close to your competition, being able to recite from memory your competitors’ cost differential and staying ahead of trend lines in your various business units.
We often say, “it just makes good business sense to…” It is worthwhile to step back and focus on what good business sense means to corporations, from the perspective of management and boards of directors. I welcome your definition and examples of business acumen, business sense and business savvy.