Developing a powerful purpose statement establishes what is unique and non-replicable about a company and provides competitive advantage. But analysis of nearly 2,000 responses from CEOs when they were asked to describe their company's purpose reveals that many are falling short of these objectives.
What does a new book about the history of British naval mutinies have to teach modern-day managers? Daniel Akst writes that the exploits of 18th-century seafarers can show modern cubicle dwellers a great deal about overseeing diverse workforces, managing amid crises, and ensuring accountability when most employees are working remotely.
Even a small investment in meeting design, both virtual and in person, can improve the experience for participants. Considering four key questions as you plan can help you engage your participants, facilitate creativity and collaboration, improve the quality of decisions, and promote motivation and accountability.
The COVID-19 pandemic blindsided many business leaders. Thinking about what the future could bring can help leaders prepare for the unexpected, but it takes a different kind of exploratory questioning. Here are ways to help leaders think productively about the future.
COVID-19 has turned millions of people into remote workers, which means leaders need to be especially aware of how they communicate. Ambiguous messages can have unintended consequences. Adam Bryant warns leaders to be extra careful and gives examples of simple actions that started rumors and caused anxiety and distress.
If the future of work is one that will be populated by remote, off-payroll workers, corporate purpose will have less and less motivational power. Consider making craftsmanship the sine qua non of work instead.
After the health threat of COVID-19 recedes, most leaders expect more people to work from home than did before. This means the function of offices will change, and businesses need to prepare now for the remodeling ahead. These four actions will help businesses get their work spaces right for the new ways of working.
Eric Hoffer's worldview was informed by a lifetime of manual labor -- and furious reading. Business leaders can learn a lot from his insights into the human need for meaning, belonging, and validation.
As the COVID-19 shutdowns begin to be lifted, businesses need to think beyond reconfiguring work spaces. Leaders will need to adopt new ways of working to ensure the health, well-being, and productivity of their workforce and reengineer operations for a sustainable future.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been working on vital public health matters for more than three decades. In an interview with strategy+business, Frieden, who currently runs the public health nonprofit Resolve to Save Lives, describes why public health is the route to economic health and outlines successful strategies for combating epidemics.
Leaders around the world have never had so many dilemmas to navigate and contradictions to reconcile. Indeed, successful leaders today must embody and negotiate a set of apparent contradictions in order to thrive in a rapidly changing world. In this article, Blair Sheppard and Susannah Anfield of PwC lay out the six paradoxes of contemporary leadership. And they explain why, as the world seeks systematically to repair and reconfigure from the collective trauma and damage suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need for leaders to understand, accept, and embrace these paradoxes.
Over the past three decades, women have become far more confident about what they have to contribute as leaders. They have learned the value of female solidarity and support and have become more comfortable enlisting men as allies. Each of these changes has specific causes and effects, yet they all reinforce one another -- resulting in a succession of turning points that define the evolution of women's leadership and the potential for their future advancement.
Sports stars such as soccer's Marcus Rashford, Megan Rapinoe, and Raheem Sterling and Formula 1's Lewis Hamilton are speaking out about social issues. That isn't new. The difference today is that sporting organizations are listening and supporting their actions, which now have more of an impact.
The idea that there is an appropriate level of unemployment necessary to the smooth functioning of the economy is bad economics, argues Bard College economist Pavlina Tcherneva. Instead, nations need to adopt a job guarantee -- a policy that produces full employment, allows governments to staff worthy projects, and creates a living-wage floor for everyone. Is it an idea whose time has finally come?
As remote working becomes a fact of corporate life, leaders need to keep track of how their people are coping. The latest data from Perform Plus, a PwC tool that monitors well-being and performance, shows overachievers are keeping productivity up -- but over the long term, leaders need everyone to contribute. Here are five ways to make remote working a success and monitor well-being.
Kobo360 is Africa's Uber-like service for logistics, operating a tech-enabled platform for truck drivers that provides efficiency and security to help move goods across six countries. Obi Ozor, founder of Kobo360, explains the importance of digitization on a continent where bad infrastructure and corruption are limiting growth and COVID-19 has postponed the introduction of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Senior executives need to act now to clearly define their identity as leaders in the fight against injustice, guided by transparent policies, compassionate conversations, bold strategies, and an unwavering commitment. The momentum today is strong, but to realize the progress being promised, this momentum needs to be sustained.
It is critical that corporate America address its D&I issue by tackling it like it would any other business problem. For PwC, as Tim Ryan, U.S. chair and senior partner of PwC US, describes, this means we have to use an approach that is data-led, rooted in analysis, and has a defined and deliberate strategy that is informed by our purpose and values.
In their book, The Ends Game: How Smart Companies Stop Selling Products and Start Delivering Value, Marco Bertini and Oded Koenigsberg make a persuasive case that companies can rewrite the rules of commerce. Reviewer David Lancefield notes that aligning the price of a product or service with the value it delivers can be a powerful lever.
Companies are now making remote working a permanent part of their employee offerings, but Linda Rodriguez McRobbie writes that companies shouldn't be too quick to shut down their offices. People want a place to go to collaborate and catch up, and for those who cannot work easily at home, an office provides a necessary workspace.
PwC's CEO Panel Survey revealed that chief executives' plans focus on three key areas: to become more digital and virtual, to adopt greater flexibility, and to be more employee oriented. As a result, they'll need a more personalized approach to well-being initiatives -- one that acknowledges that a one-size-fits-most approach will no longer suffice.
COVID-19 messaging provides an object lesson in how -- and how not -- to communicate in a way that gets people to recognize the nature of a threat and to act in ways that reduce risks to themselves and others. Columnist Michele Wucker describes the lessons leaders can learn about how to communicate effectively about risk.
Understanding the importance of feelings -- which are messengers of needs -- is vital to using organizational culture to improve performance and employee satisfaction. In their article, Jon Katzenbach, Chad Gomes, and Carolyn Black explain the linkages between feelings and needs, and the concrete steps companies can take to identify and tap into positive feelings at work.
Customers come to you for a reason: because you're innovative or top-quality, because you're a one-stop shop, or because you build deep relationships. Now is not the time to change that fundamental value proposition. What might change, however, is how you deliver the value you promise, and that depends on five principles that translate a value proposition into the experience customers actually have.
Philip Roth's classic novel American Pastoral is about the CEO of a glove manufacturing company whose life goes awry. Daniel Akst writes that Roth recognizes that, in business as in life, hard work and good intentions aren't enough to shield heroes from tragedy and loss.
Bureaucracy provides the structure and support new ideas need to take hold in large organizations. But once an idea is successfully implemented, the same bureaucracy can become the agent of its ossification. What's a leader to do?
Upskilling should be a priority for CEOs. It will give them the workforce their businesses need to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Upskilling is a budget line leaders can control, and it delivers measurable ROI if it is aligned with business strategy. Here are four areas in which CEOs can make the case for upskilling.
Many companies achieve early wins with enterprise agility and experience management, then stall. But if the two programs converge, with a focus on the right measures and activation strategy, they can unlock each other's potential.
In order to compete in a rapidly changing world, the global utilities industry must increase the volume and intensity of its investments in innovation and research and development. It must also shift from viewing R&D as a means of improving efficiency and operations to viewing ideas as a means of creating value and generating revenues.
Data centers are a rapidly growing -- and power-hungry -- business all over the world. Bobbie Van der List reports on how the excess heat generated by data centers in Stockholm is being captured to provide warmth to houses and commercial buildings. Can other cities follow suit?
Setting goals is as much an art as a science, and leaders are finding that uncertainty about the future during the COVID-19 pandemic is making this task harder. Adam Bryant talked to leading CEOs to get their take on how ambitious leaders should be in order to energize and not enervate their employees.
The Global Innovation Index (GII) analyzes key global innovation trends and presents a ranking of the innovation performance of more than 130 economies around the world. Analysis of the GII 2020, as well as past GII studies, suggests that innovation investment in the post-pandemic won't be derailed, and in fact may experience strong growth.
Factions that feud after a new CEO takes the helm can exacerbate the difficult period that follows changes at the top of companies. A new study of the dynamics in post-succession C-suites investigates the impact of cliques made up of either holdovers from the previous regime or newly hired "allies" of the incoming CEO.
COVID-19 is forcing companies to leverage digital experiences rather than rely on traditional face-to-face models of engagement, but the change requires ramping up investments and reimagining operating models.
Regulatory authorities such as the U.S. Department of Justice expect businesses to use sophisticated analytics in their compliance programs that prove they have stress tested their third-party suppliers. If businesses are caught breaking laws, the fines are steep. Companies that can harness the latest technology will have a competitive edge.
For financial-services firms, inter-industry partnerships are the pathway to growth. But companies on both ends of these alliances can fire up revenues more quickly and with less risk than if they try to go it alone.
Daniel Akst writes that The Magnificent Ambersons, the classic 1918 novel by Booth Tarkington, holds important lessons for contemporary readers on the power of disruptive technology and how being engaged in business -- or being aloof from it -- defines status and self-worth.
Professor of strategy and entrepreneurship Vaughn Tan spent much of the past decade studying -- and embedded within -- high-end culinary R&D labs. In The Uncertainty Mindset, he reports the lessons he uncovered for enhancing the performance of innovation teams.
Mike Jakeman reviews One Billion Americans, in which journalist Matthew Yglesias argues that the U.S. should strive to triple its population -- both as an effort to counterbalance the rise of China and a spur to make much-needed changes in policy.
In a recent PwC survey of U.S. C-suite executives and business leaders, the top policy concern reported by respondents was changes in tax policy, followed by the nation's response to the global pandemic. But despite the risks ahead, companies are thinking long-term and are willing to invest in future growth.
As more parents work from home while managing remote schooling, Josh Levs writes that companies can support their employees by building more flexibility into their schedules and providing technology support.
Leaders do not have all the answers to navigating the seismic events of 2020 -- the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests -- that have fundamentally changed the way they need to act and manage. To lead well in these ambiguous times, Adam Bryant proposes that CEOs develop "frictionless" minds -- ones with the ability to quickly and easily understand the perspectives of others.
Most experts believe that fear has no place in organizations. But that may not be true in some arenas, such as corporate transformation, where fear can have a powerful motivational effect -- as long as you remember a few important codicils.
Think of the BXT approach as like getting in shape: You hone skills; build better experiences; and adopt smarter, more effective business strategies. The payback is increased flexibility, discipline, clarity, and stamina.
In Recommendation Engines, Michael Schrage, visiting fellow at the MIT Sloan School of Management and s+b contributor, offers readers a more expansive view of recommenders, as well as their effects on human behavior and potential for abuse. The book is an eye-opener for readers who find the ubiquitous "what people like you bought" suggestions of online merchants faintly intrusive and only occasionally useful.
Designing the employee experience goes beyond figuring out how to make remote work possible or how to make work sites safer. Using the design-thinking mindset and tool kit, companies can attract and keep good people, help them do their job better, and ensure that employees' behavior aligns with the company's value proposition -- all of which will help restart growth and restore profits.
In the 20th edition of strategy+business's Best Business Books section, our writers identify the three most compelling reads in seven genres: talent & leadership, strategy, narratives, management, economics, tech & innovation, and marketing.
Sally Helgesen writes that this year's best business books on leadership include a comprehensive guide for rebuilding organizations, a research-driven volume on the well-intentioned behaviors that undermine efforts to build inclusive cultures, and a strongly argued narrative that documents the excruciating ineffectiveness of organizations' efforts to address racial inequality.
Bethany McLean writes that the historical narratives among the best business books of 2020 all have particular resonance for contemporary readers. They include a family biography of two Jewish dynasties that thrived in Shanghai; the tale of a 1960s-era analytics company whose founders believed they could use data to sway public opinion; and a biography of Samuel Colt, whose mass-produced revolver revolutionized industry.
David Lancefield writes that this year's best books on business strategy offer passionate articulations of how organizations can adjust to radically different contexts. The best among these books, Humanocracy¸ is a vivid manifesto on how busting bureaucracy can release the power of people.
Ryan Avent writes that the year's best business books on economics focus on how economic conflicts influence social developments, international trade wars, and domestic politics. The most compelling of them is a new biography of the most written about economist of the 20th century, John Maynard Keynes.
James Surowiecki writes that this year's best business books on technology and innovation describe, and even celebrate, the messiness and uncertainty inherent in the process of discovering breakthroughs and bringing them to market. The most compelling among them, Stefan H. Thomke's Experimentation Works, describes how embracing a culture of running tests can achieve high-velocity incremental change.
Though data increasingly predominates in business affairs, Tony Case says that this year's best business books on marketing focus on the human element of how products and services are sold. The most compelling among them, Restoring the Soul of Business, by veteran ad executive Rishad Tobaccowala, shows how the companies that build the most successful customer- and user-focused operations have fused technology and humanity.
Jeroen Drost, CEO of SHV Holdings, one of the Netherlands' largest family-owned businesses, explains how values and a mixed portfolio tip the balance toward optimism during the COVID-19 crisis. Not all the company's businesses are affected by the crisis at the same time, which helps maintain company-wide cash flow.
People tend to trust those they have something in common with. In corporate settings, leaders often fail to trust messengers they should listen to simply because they are different. Biases are not just about race or gender. They also include personality traits such as shyness or geekiness. To become more open, managers should build trust networks beyond their comfort zone.
Six decades after its publication, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged exerts a powerful influence on readers -- especially those interested in business. Daniel Akst takes a fresh look at the iconic novel that venerates risk-takers.