finance | June 08, 2011

Roger Martin: To Fix Finance, Business, and Capitalism, Look to Sports

Appearing at Thompson Reuters this week, Roger Martin, visionary Dean of the Rotman School of Management, headed a provocative panel on his new book, Fixing the Game. In his talk, Martin borrowed plays from the National Football League, specifically one in which the league changes rules every time a clever coach figures out an unstoppable tactic. He applied this thinking to the financial world. If a “coach,” in this case a CEO, finds a way to beat the game, the sector must adapt and change the rules.

This, says Martin, is particularly evident following the 1960s "brilliant" idea of tying CEO compensation packages to the price of the stock. CEOs began driving up speculated value at the expense of the actual value. This technique, which contributed to the 2008 financial meltdown, lined many CEOs' pockets, while shareholders suffered. If the NFL were in charge, to use Martin's comparison, it would be adapting rules—something the financial world must accept to play on.

A leading figure in the business world, Martin has filled Fixing the Game with many other relevant sports-themed eye-openers. From the book's blurb:
[Martin's] unique game plan for American capitalism to successfully regain lost yardage and attain its powerful maximizing objectives includes:

Restructuring executive compensation to focus entirely on the real market, not the expectations market;

Rethinking board governance and the role of board members and the autonomy of auditors;

Reining in the power of hedge funds and monopoly pension funds;

Five positive steps to heal American capitalism, fix the game, play tough and win in the real world.

Read more about business visionary, Roger Martin