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ARTICLE: How to Thrive in the 2020s

Updated: May 1, 2020

The keys to competitive success in the new decade will be different from those of the past. This interactive article explains steps to create a company equal to the challenges of the 2020s.

An Era of Uncertainty and Volatility: Accelerating technological change, social polarization, political gridlock, geopolitical power shifts, and increased public scrutiny of business all point to an era of protracted uncertainty and volatility.

  1. Company lifespans are shrinking. Only 44% of today’s industry leaders have held their position for at least five years, down from 77% a half-century ago.

  2. The odds of failure are increasing. 1 out of 3 public companies will cease to exist in their current form over the next five years—a rate six times higher than 40 years ago.

  3. The gap between winners and losers is growing. The profitability spread between top- and bottom-quartile companies has nearly doubled over the past 30 years.

  4. Growth is harder to achieve. GDP growth has declined by more than 1/3 in the past decade.

  5. Talent is a scarce commodity. 30% of the skills that companies need are lacking or seen as not critical in today’s talent pool.

New and Unfamiliar Competitive Imperatives: These trends are confronting companies with fundamentally new competitive imperatives that challenge traditional managerial capabilities.

  1. Learning

  2. Ecosystems

  3. Digital-Physical

  4. Vitality

  5. Resilience

Build a 21st-Century Enterprise: Here are six steps leaders can take to reinvent the enterprise as a next-generation learning organization founded on continuous innovation and sustainable growth.

  1. Adopt technologies for seamless learning

  2. Integrate machines and humans

  3. Embrace new ways of working

  4. Commit to “always-on” transformation

  5. Make diversity a business requirement

  6. Combine business and social value

Winning in the 2020s confronts managers with fundamentally new challenges. They must focus less on forecasting, planning, and direct decision making and more on nurturing the organizational capabilities necessary to evolve and grow sustainably over time.

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