Many businesses may be scratching their heads when trying to assess how the current chaos of Scottish politics might impact them, and how to make their voices heard amidst the tumult.
While pondering the turmoil which has surrounded the departure of Nicola Sturgeon and elevation of Humza Yousaf, it is worth remembering that since the early years of devolution, the passing-on of keys to Bute House has become an increasingly rare event, and that any change brings with it uncertainty.
Yousaf’s three immediate predecessors each enjoyed successively longer tenures, culminating in Sturgeon’s record eight-and-a-half-year term in office, and only once since 1999 has power been transferred from one First Minister to the next by means of a parliamentary election.
Such relative stability at the top of Government has of course not been matched by calm politics in the outside world. However, a low churn of national leaders may have contributed to a sense of businesses and public alike “knowing where they stand” for better or worse.
The arrival of a new First Minister, albeit one pitched heavily as the “continuity candidate” and natural heir to Sturgeon, was therefore always bound to cause ripples in the business community, coming as it did at a time when organisations continue to wrestle multiple external crises and many harbour immediate and pressing concerns about devolved public policy matters.
Layered upon this is a sense, or suspicion, among some that this latest iteration of SNP-Green government may be somewhat cooler towards business interests than some of its predecessors.
Certainly, ministerial job titles in Humza Yousaf’s new government may outwardly indicate a greater focus on social goals than more traditional economic success measures - see for example, “Wellbeing Economy”, “Minister for Keeping the Promise” etc.
However, a focus on critical priorities such as tackling poverty need not come at the expense of economic success. The equation is not zero sum, and the two pursuits are more often than not closely intertwined, with progress towards both goals a symbiotic endeavour.
Of course it remains to be seen how well the new government and businesses - large and small - will work together. Success will require effort from both. Given the stakes at play, organisations should be bold in their engagement and rather than waiting to hear from government, take their case directly to ministers - most if not all of whom are currently in “listening mode” as they work to get on top of their respective briefs. Ministerial responses to considered, solution-focussed approaches, may well surprise on the upside.
There is certainly no place for fatalism, and businesses should be driven to make their own luck by the maxim that “if you’re not at the table, then you may well be on the menu”.
The challenge for now is therefore to ensure that businesses turn up and take their seat, then put their case to government in a way which illustrates - practically - how a successful economy does not threaten progress towards social goals, but is in fact critical to their achievement. This dynamic also responds to the sustainability agenda which is already at the top or near the top of both corporate and governmental strategic priorities.