I’ve been asked ‘Why don’t you just go and build your cars and worry about your fancy ideas later?’  The point is that the best opportunity you get to define a company is from the outset, working with a clean sheet of paper.

The Riversimple model of governance is constructed to represent and be relevant to society today, just as our product and service must represent and be relevant to that society.  

We need a business model with the capacity to ‘see’ in all directions and then ‘deliver’, even in the face of complex challenges. In order to do this, we have introduced 6 Custodians, acting as an independent legislative body.  Each Custodian represents a fundamental part of modern life – the Environment, the Customers (Users), the Community (Neighbours), the Staff, the Investors and the Commercial Partners.


We have been very fortunate, attracting exceptional individuals to fill each custodial role.


Peter Lang, environmental consultant and researcher



Andrew Davis, CEO, Environmental Transport Association


Peter Davies, first Commissioner for Sustainable Futures in Wales


Bill Whyman, procurement manager at Riversimple


Christopher Neale, finance consultant

Commercial Partners Stewart Dow, product and management development manager, The BOC Group


The Custodians take part in regular teleconferences and work days, facilitated by the company Steward, Estelle Clark (Head of Profession at the Chartered Quality Institute).

There is a focus on bigger picture thinking coupled with agility of decision making. Custodian input is collated and fed back to the executive board, paving the way for a business that is answerable to the bigger picture and can hold its own in the marketplace.

Is it better for business?

I absolutely believe this new model will be of generic value.  People have talked about multi-stakeholder governance before but it isn’t really happening. We have looked at a very successful organisation – Fairtrade – that was set up to balance two stakeholder groups – the interests of the investors and the interests of the suppliers in developing countries.  That was a true ‘twin stakeholder’ governance model but it’s very rare and we haven’t come across anything like our model.

So, watch this space?

At the moment we are working through unexplored territory so by definition there are some unknowns.  If there is one unifying theme though, it is about aligning the interests of all across industry, commerce, society and the planet.  This is important for businesses everywhere, not just because business has to provide answers to 21st Century issues, but because the consumer increasingly demands it.