Waves of social outcry and protest; debt crises in the United States, Europe, and Japan; a growing desire for autonomy among workers; and new technologies that upset the fundamentals of traditional business — 2011 represents a peak in the waves of changes affecting the business world since the beginning of the century. How will business leaders adapt to these forces in the coming months?
80% of CEOs say they expect their environment to become more volatile, uncertain, and complex over the next five years, and more than one in two feel insufficiently prepared to confront those changes.*
What are the principle trends that will force us to reposition in 2012?
1. Indignation upsets the rules of engagement: consumers and employees take control. In search of meaning, they are transferring zones of power towards the base of the pyramid
2. New financial constraints pushes a reinvention of innovation: “doing more with less” is becoming the new creed of businesses looking to compensate for reduced resources
3. Need for autonomy upends HRM: eager to overcome company constraints, employees are pushing their managers to rethink talent management
4. Hyperconnection pushes the boundaries of traditional business, which will increasingly disappearing in favor of autonomous and interconnected enterprises. Simultaneously, the hyperconnected consumer is radically changing the nature of customer relations.
Preparing for the future: advice from five top executives
Indra Nooyi – CEO of Pepsi: Keep your eyes on the long term
“Periods of uncertainty require long-term vision. The companies with clear visions are the ones that will endure.”
Paul Polman – CEO of Unilever: Practice sustainable and equitable capitalism
“The question to ask now is if consumers are willing to buy products from companies that are irresponsible.”
Franck Riboud – President and CEO of Danone: Change your perspective on emerging nations
“Emerging countries will change the mindset of Danone in terms of innovation, organization, customer relations…”
Jeff Bezos – CEO of Amazon: Achieve operational excellence in customer service
“I am content to concentrate solely on my customers! Because instead of thinking about all the formidable competitors, I must focus only on a few categories.”
Vineet Nayar – CEO of HCL Technologies: Engage your teams
“Whether you are a service company or an industry group, remember that the one who makes everything work is the employee on the ground.”
* “Capitalizing on Complexity,” IBM study, May 2010.
Read our dossier
Understanding the four trends that will force us to reposition
Business Digest no. 221, December 2011 – January 2012.
Based on What to Ask the Person in the Mirror, by Robert Steven Kaplan, Harvard Business Press, July 2011.