Dealing with disruption

In an ever-changing and vulnerable business world, there are several challenges that must be dealt with on a daily basis. The hunt for growth and resilience goes on


Leaders and their organisations are now operating in a world where uncertainty and volatility have increased to unprecedented levels, and economic growth varies widely between countries and regions. It is against this background that PwC has conducted its 16th annual global CEO survey.

Our study shows that UK CEOs have been focusing on short-term challenges; that they expect economic difficulties to continue, and that they are concerned with building resilience into their organisations – both to meet those challenges and seize future opportunities.

Resilience combines a short-term ability to ride out the immediate impact of shocks, with the flexibility to future-proof the organisation by adapting, over the long term. Resilience is a quality that is becoming ever more important in today’s highly connected world, where previously isolated risks have become both contagious and commonplace.

Adapting to survive
In this context, our study highlights three priorities that UK CEOs are intending to focus on. The first of which is the need to reshape the changing world. Across the globe, profound structural changes are creating a new world order. With the European economy largely flat and the US remaining fragile, opportunities to expand are concentrated in growth markets. UK CEOs are actively reshaping their businesses for this with three quarters anticipating changes in their company’s organisational structure over the coming year.

Another key priority is to build key relationships and trust. Events over the past few years have undermined trust in public and private institutions. Against this background, an ability to establish trust among all stakeholders is a vital part of the resilience companies need to foster. This is underlined by the fact that regulators now talk openly about changing the ‘culture’ of organisations – reinforcing the view that companies need to focus on cultures and behaviours alongside policies, procedures and mission statements.

Finally there is a need to find and develop talent. UK CEOs portray themselves as custodians of a reliable pipeline of future leaders, with 84 percent claiming to have an active succession planning programme in place. A further nine out of ten say their strategic decision making processes involve managers below board level, the highest proportion of any major economy, bar the US. However, there seem to be challenges here. The availability of key skills remains a concern for two thirds of UK CEOs, higher than anywhere else in Western Europe.

A stimulating debate
This year’s research covers more than 60 countries and includes the views of over 1,300 CEOs, as well as many PwC specialists, providing valuable insights which we hope will stimulate debate over the coming months.

Here you can also compare and contrast your views against the extensive findings of our global CEO survey, access a wide range of CEO interviews, explore the key findings and data in greater detail and customise your own reports with your choice of country and industry summaries.

I hope this article provides the catalyst for you to take advantage of the suite of information and tools that are available, and for you to join in the wider debate, as we continue to develop and expand our thinking in the hunt for further growth and resilience.

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