Sunday, April 18, 2010

On the annual report

How well does your company’s annual report communicate and reinforce leadership intent and corporate values?

A good way to start answering this question is to read Milt Moskowitz's great analysis of Novartis's 2009 annual report for strategy+business. Moskowitz, who's on Business and Society Review's editorial board and co-developed Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” survey, starts like this:

The corporate annual report, a widely ignored document, could do with a makeover. It is generally devoid of transparency, candor, and life. Most companies seem to regard it as a chore. In recent years, these reports have been reduced in size. Many companies now greet shareholders with a bland statement placed in front of the 10-K report they file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Talk about tough reading.

If you want to see just how big a missed opportunity this is, take a look at the annual reports of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG. The company sets a new standard for delivery of information in clear, nuanced, and felicitous the rest here.

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