By Iain MacRitchie

Does being respectful mean you can’t be as disruptive as necessary to improve business and policy? Can I suggest the combination is the best way to drive the sustainable changes we need in our economy and social fabric. Let me explain and make a plea that respectful disruption is adopted in our political, policy and practice language. That corporates ingrain it in their cultures. Just as we have said economic recovery must be fused with effective social policies. Just as we have said those with lived experience need to share decision-making with trained professionals. That schools must remain open come what may. As we should accept we all have natural bias owing to the particular lens through which we perceive the world.

Acceptance is often felt and presented as submission. A failed negotiation. But can I introduce another view. Acceptance is an attitude found at the beginning of every successful and transformational change. It was the common denominator I saw throughout leading 18 highly complex and emotionally driven corporate situations and advising over 100 others around the world. You have to accept something did not work before you find the way forward. A common purpose, shared agenda and positive outcomes are then in reach. Partnerships become possible as does breaking down vested interests.

Acceptance equally does not have to be beaten into the other party. Apology is sometimes confused with acceptance. What I have found in business, without exception, is that every failed idea was actually once a good one. It was felt to be the right thing to do in a moment in time. Hindsight is fine, but it is as constructive to relationships as a comb to a bald man. If only. In MCR Pathways this is why we don’t share a young person’s past with their mentor, simply because the past does not determine the future.

I started my turnaround and transformation career based on flawed but natural thinking. That all previous business decisions were wrong, and management clueless. Everything had to be changed and with that the baby usually went out with the bathwater. In reality every idea had a moment, even if just fleeting. The challenge was the moment passed and people had clung desperately on to it. The start of change is to respect the original idea and people involved but leave it to the history book.

I accept our institutions were once all excellent and have great people. Some institutions are now not performing and are in desperate need of change. Let’s respect them for what they have achieved, embrace individuals to create better ideas and create a more relevant reason to exist. Break the chains of human nature and our need to criticise, condemn and complain. These only maim and kill progress. Respectful disruption is the way forward. Was relevant, is no longer, now to create something better.

We can refresh and re-energise our institutions and governments with the approach. Make contradictions work, let them spark creativity. Some of us want independence, some to remain part of the UK. However we are joined by the need to recover and build a sustaining economy, to sell more and generate the profits to share. Selling more means being more open and welcoming as a country to all our neighbours. Not just for our essential tourism sector but because people do business with people. We have North Sea expertise but let’s use all the skill and experience to create green energy to export. We have excellent education institutions that need more international students. Let’s welcome more from abroad but at the same time give our most disadvantaged the chance to study in recognition of their amazing resilience to overcome difficulty.

We have some fantastic sectors, companies and entrepreneurs. We are far too understated, and it is time for them to be valued. After all, business has to grow to generate a profit and taxes to fund our public sector. Let’s imagine a country that is open, positive, motivated, committed, resilient, intelligent, entrepreneurial, socially driven, inclusive and deeply caring. One that is blind to gender, colour, race, religion, everything but talent and potential. We see opportunities and work harder than anyone else to take them. This is the DNA of our country. It is time to show the world once more.

Professor Iain MacRitchie is founder and CEO of MCR Pathways and a visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde