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Flevy Management Insights Q&A
How are Best Practices evolving in response to the increasing demand for transparency and accountability in business operations?


This article provides a detailed response to: How are Best Practices evolving in response to the increasing demand for transparency and accountability in business operations? For a comprehensive understanding of Best Practices, we also include relevant case studies for further reading and links to Best Practices best practice resources.

TLDR The demand for transparency and accountability is transforming Best Practices in Strategic Planning, Risk Management, and Performance Management, integrating ESG factors, stakeholder engagement, and continuous improvement for long-term success.

Reading time: 4 minutes


In the contemporary business landscape, the demand for transparency and accountability has never been higher. Stakeholders, including customers, investors, and regulatory bodies, are increasingly calling for organizations to operate in a manner that is not only profitable but also ethical and transparent. This shift in expectations has prompted a significant evolution in Best Practices across various aspects of business operations. From Strategic Planning to Risk Management, and Performance Management, the way organizations approach these critical areas is changing to accommodate this new demand.

Strategic Planning and Transparency

Strategic Planning has traditionally been an inward-looking process, focusing on maximizing profitability and market share. However, the increasing demand for transparency and accountability has necessitated a more outward-looking approach, considering the broader impact of business operations on society and the environment. Organizations are now integrating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors into their strategic planning processes. According to a report by McKinsey, companies that effectively integrate ESG factors into their strategic planning not only mitigate risks but also seize new opportunities that align with societal expectations, thereby enhancing their long-term competitiveness.

This evolution in Strategic Planning requires organizations to be more transparent about their goals, strategies, and performance metrics, not just to investors but to all stakeholders. This involves regular reporting on ESG metrics, setting clear targets for social and environmental performance, and openly discussing the challenges and trade-offs involved in meeting these targets. For example, Unilever has been at the forefront of integrating sustainability into its business model, setting ambitious targets for reducing environmental impact and enhancing social well-being, and reporting progress transparently.

Moreover, the use of technology has become a critical enabler for transparency in Strategic Planning. Digital platforms and tools allow for real-time tracking and reporting of performance against ESG criteria, making it easier for organizations to communicate their progress to stakeholders. This digital transformation in Strategic Planning not only enhances transparency but also improves decision-making, as it provides leaders with timely and accurate data on their performance in relation to societal expectations.

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Risk Management and Accountability

Risk Management practices are also evolving in response to the demand for greater accountability. Traditionally focused on financial and operational risks, Risk Management now encompasses a broader range of risks, including reputational, regulatory, and sustainability risks. This shift is driven by the recognition that non-financial risks can have a significant impact on an organization's long-term viability. A study by Deloitte highlighted that organizations with advanced ESG risk management practices tend to outperform their peers in terms of resilience and financial performance.

To address these broader risks, organizations are adopting more holistic and proactive Risk Management approaches. This involves not only identifying and mitigating risks but also integrating accountability mechanisms into their operations. For instance, many organizations are establishing clear lines of responsibility for ESG risks, embedding sustainability criteria into performance evaluations, and linking executive compensation to ESG performance targets. This ensures that accountability for managing these risks is embedded throughout the organization, from the boardroom to the front lines.

Another key aspect of evolving Risk Management practices is the emphasis on stakeholder engagement. Organizations are increasingly recognizing that engaging with stakeholders can help identify emerging risks and opportunities earlier. This engagement involves not just sharing information but also actively soliciting feedback from stakeholders on the organization's risk management practices and performance. For example, Salesforce has implemented a comprehensive stakeholder engagement program that includes regular dialogue with customers, employees, and community groups on sustainability and social impact issues, helping the company to identify and address risks proactively.

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Performance Management and Continuous Improvement

Performance Management systems are being redefined in the context of transparency and accountability. Traditional performance management focused primarily on financial metrics, but there is now a growing emphasis on non-financial metrics, including those related to ESG performance. This shift is part of a broader move towards Integrated Reporting, which seeks to provide a more holistic view of an organization's performance. According to a report by PwC, organizations that adopt Integrated Reporting benefit from improved stakeholder relationships, better decision-making, and enhanced long-term value creation.

This evolution in Performance Management requires organizations to develop new metrics and reporting systems that capture the full range of their activities' impacts. For example, companies are now tracking metrics related to carbon emissions, water usage, employee diversity and inclusion, and community engagement. This not only helps organizations monitor their progress towards ESG goals but also communicates this progress to stakeholders in a transparent and accountable manner.

Moreover, the focus on continuous improvement is stronger than ever. Organizations are using insights from their performance management systems to drive operational excellence and innovation. This involves regularly reviewing performance data, soliciting feedback from stakeholders, and implementing changes to improve ESG performance. For instance, Google uses data from its environmental reporting to identify opportunities for reducing energy consumption and waste in its data centers, demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement and sustainability.

The evolution of Best Practices in response to the demand for transparency and accountability is a clear indication that the business landscape is undergoing a significant transformation. Organizations that embrace this change and integrate transparency and accountability into their Strategic Planning, Risk Management, and Performance Management practices are not only meeting the expectations of their stakeholders but are also positioning themselves for long-term success in an increasingly complex and scrutinized world.

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Best Practices Case Studies

For a practical understanding of Best Practices, take a look at these case studies.

Revenue Management Initiative for Boutique Hotels in Competitive Urban Markets

Scenario: A boutique hotel chain is grappling with suboptimal occupancy rates and revenue per available room (RevPAR) in a highly competitive urban environment.

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Best Practice Enhancement in Chemicals Sector

Scenario: The organization is a mid-sized chemical producer specializing in polymers and faced with stagnating market share due to outdated operational practices.

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Inventory Management Enhancement in Aerospace

Scenario: The organization is a mid-sized aerospace components supplier grappling with inventory inefficiencies that have led to increased carrying costs and missed delivery timelines.

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Consumer Packaged Goods Best Practices Advancement in Health-Conscious Market

Scenario: The organization is a mid-sized producer of health-focused consumer packaged goods in North America.

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Aerospace Best Practices Analysis for Defense Contractor

Scenario: A mid-sized firm specializing in aerospace defense technologies is facing challenges in maintaining its competitive edge in a rapidly evolving market.

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Growth Strategy Enhancement for Cosmetic Firm in Luxury Segment

Scenario: The organization in question operates within the luxury cosmetics industry and has been grappling with maintaining consistency and quality across its global brand portfolio.

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Related Questions

Here are our additional questions you may be interested in.

What strategies can leaders employ to ensure the alignment of individual performance goals with overarching business objectives?
Leaders can align individual performance with business objectives by establishing clear goals, fostering continuous feedback, linking performance to rewards, and investing in employee development, as demonstrated by companies like Google, Adobe, and Cisco. [Read full explanation]
What role does organizational culture play in the successful adoption and implementation of BDP?
Organizational culture is crucial for Big Data Projects success, emphasizing Data-Driven Decision-Making, Continuous Learning, and Adaptation, supported by Leadership and Organizational Support for innovation and competitive advantage. [Read full explanation]
What role will sustainability and environmental considerations play in shaping business strategies and operational practices moving forward?
Sustainability and environmental considerations are becoming central to Strategic Planning, Operational Excellence, and Innovation, driving growth, differentiation, and competitive advantage for businesses like Unilever, IKEA, and Tesla. [Read full explanation]
How can companies ensure the continuous evolution of their BDP to adapt to rapid technological advancements?
To ensure the continuous evolution of their BDP in response to technological advancements, companies must integrate Strategic Planning, adopt Cutting-Edge Technologies, foster an Innovation-Driven Culture, and utilize Agile Methodologies, focusing on market analysis, risk assessment, technology investment, and workforce upskilling. [Read full explanation]
How can businesses balance the need for operational excellence with the imperative to remain agile and responsive to market changes?
Achieve balance between Operational Excellence and agility through Strategic Planning, leveraging Digital Transformation, and fostering a culture of Continuous Improvement and Innovation for market responsiveness. [Read full explanation]
What metrics can be used to effectively measure the success of BDP implementation across different departments?
Effective measurement of BDP implementation success involves Operational Efficiency, Financial Performance, and Innovation metrics, including process time reductions, profitability, ROI, new product development speed, and strategic decision-making improvements. [Read full explanation]

Source: Executive Q&A: Best Practices Questions, Flevy Management Insights, 2024


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