This is the second interview in a mini series exploring the Riversimple model of governance. The business structure underpinning Riversimple is described as disruptive, but what does this really mean? This month I interviewed Dr Stafford Lloyd.

Stafford is Systems and Sustainability engineer. He joined Riversimple from Rolls-Royce plc and has an engineering doctorate in environmental technology. He was recently voted in by staff to represent them as a custodian. He describes the role as “making sure that Riversimple is run well from a staff’s perspective” and wants to bring staff into the decision making process without becoming “a puppet for populist ideas.”

 On The Role

When I accepted the role of staff custodian it was largely undefined. I felt that it could easily have become confused with an HR role. Human Resources however, is focused inwards – on maximizing employee productivity, improving skill base, management of the workforce.

The staff custodian represents staff in a radically different way. It’s about collecting the opinions and thoughts of staff and then bringing the worker’s perspective to the table so that they are part of shaping the direction of the company as a whole. Exclusion of social consequences in economic decision making can be very damaging.

On Systems

Decisions taken in one place can have unforeseen consequences in another. A key part of this role is to review possible consequences from a wider point of view before a critical executive decision is taken by the board.

Of course this process must not become too cumbersome –  but with the right mechanisms and the right people, there is a potential for ground breaking progress to be made.

 On Staff Involvement

There is an opportunity here. It is an opportunity for Riversimple to benefit from, rather than just manage, staff perspective and viewpoint. The challenge, however, begins with several tough questions: How does a company deal honestly and meaningfully with knotty problems raised by staff? How can we draw out staff perspective in a way that is objective and free of prejudice? Is it possible to measure staff well-being in a way that can stand up against financial targets?

 What Do Staff Want?
For employees, a decent wage is the bottom line – to feed the family, to provide security, for happiness and well being. There are also issues about pay structures and at the moment we are grappling with this. How do we keep a fair ratio of pay between high and low wages for the benefit of the company as a whole?

And above and beyond wages, what draws in talented staff and how they are lost? Riversimple has an opportunity to offer a fresh kind of legitimacy but what does this mean on a day to day basis? People respond positively to somewhere that is a great place to work, where they don’t have to leave their values at the door as they come in every morning, where communications are good and where there is a real sense of having a voice.

The Team

A team is something bigger than the sum of its parts.  The custodian framework creates an opportunity to tap into that, to develop and shape both company and outputs in a more connected way – it is a framework for change.


Next month (last in series) – interview with Peter Davies, custodian for neighbours/community.

Written for Riversimple, interview with Dr. Stafford Lloyd by Rachel Francis at Sharpening Pencils

Published in “Knowledge” – by Chartered Quality Institute

Image shows Riversimple team. Stafford Lloyd is pictured 5th from left


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