The POEC examination process involves several rounds.
The POEC is given free rein to examine all company strategies, policies, and relevant documents.
This avowed forthrightness is frequently met with skepticism from newly appointed POEC members, but this feeling quickly subsides when the members' own inquiries are met with complete candor: They find that their questions are answered no matter the consequences, and personnel at all levels openly discuss strengths and weaknesses.
The written report itself is drafted, revised, and approved by the POEC members.
One year, the POEC paid particular attention to a recent decision by the company to increase the dividend interest rate to policyowners on most unborrowed funds from 8.
Here, POEC members have urged the company to be sure the policyowners' voice is heard by proactively involving them in any major public policy debate.
Regarding strategy, it has been interesting over the years to listen as the POEC has wrestled aloud with the same issues we've been dealing with internally: for example, how to stay focused versus chasing products unrelated to life insurance, annuities, and disability insurance; and that the company's greatest strength -- a focused strategy -- could become a weakness in a changing world if a critical window of opportunity is missed.
With this in mind, I have often wondered if committees like Northwestern Mutual's POEC could work for other organizations -- another mutual, a nonprofit, a government agency, or a publicly traded.
The 1970 POEC included the president of Johnson Wax (S.
The 1999 POEC recognized the importance of Northwestern Mutual's leadership role in technology within its industry but also identified opportunities to extend its focus, especially with the field force.
During our internal POEC sessions, we debated and discussed our observations and ideas.