strategy+business Spring 2019

Experience the ideas and stories that raise the game for management, written and expounded clearly enough to provide the basis for thoughtful action. Through in-depth feature stories, thought leader interviews, and strategic commentaries, each issue of strategy+business provides an informed global perspective for decision makers in organizations around the world.

United States
PwC Strategy& LLC
4 Issues

in this issue

2 min
delivering a better life

The powerful measures for improving the workplace in our cover story, “Good Work,” by PwC organizational experts Bhushan Sethi and Carol Stubbings (page 74), are buttressed by an even more powerful underlying premise: To recruit great talent, companies have to deliver a better life for their employees, which means intrinsically rewarding workplace experiences — plus fair pay, control over their work, and the feeling that they are making a contribution to society. You can increasingly expect all that in your job, at least if you’re a high-performing contributor. But as London Business School professor and noted management author Lynda Gratton points out on page 82, few business institutions are equipped to deliver what most people need “to be able to build long, prosperous, and secure lives.” Some leaders have tried, with…

8 min
how robots will transform the c-suite

Robots will play a critical role throughout the modern workforce. A recent PwC study of 29 countries estimated that on average, the proportion of jobs at high risk of automation will be roughly 20 percent by the late 2020s, and 30 percent by the mid-2030s. For employees around the globe, such shifts could mean preparing to share space with robots as colleagues or learning new skills as robots take over the most repetitive or dangerous tasks. When we talk about robots, we are essentially referring to two kinds: industrial robots and service robots. Industrial robots are found in factories or work environments that use assembly lines or similar approaches to build products or pick and pack orders at a fulfillment center. Service robots stand in for humans and are not necessarily…

8 min
human creativity in the age of smart machines

The traditional method used by social workers to help the homeless is a conveyor belt model, which moves people methodically from street, to shelter, to permanent housing. Few service providers ever questioned this basic model. Yet any experienced social worker would concede that there is a so-called service-resistant population: homeless individuals who refuse shelters. Faced with this reality, in 2001 a nonprofit organization called Common Ground (now known as Breaking Ground) conducted an experiment: a winter count of the homeless individuals in New York City’s Times Square. The Common Ground team went out to the field. They suspended judgment, postponed analysis, and drew conclusions based solely on up-close observations and careful listening. This idea of a human-centric design — developing solutions through intensive observation and gathering of small data, those tiny…

10 min
business cycle

John Foley is the CEO and cofounder of Peloton, a fitness startup whose US$2,000 stationary bicycles and high-energy classes have gained a cult following since its founding in 2012. Peloton is a rare New York–based “unicorn” — in August it raised $550 million at a $4 billion valuation. It has thrived by focusing on every aspect of its business — software, hardware, world-class instructors, an expanding retail footprint, and its own logistics network — so that it can provide an immersive customer experience. Peloton has sold hundreds of thousands of bicycles and counts a community of 1 million users. In 2017, its revenues ($400 million) more than doubled from the previous year. Foley, a cycling enthusiast, is a veteran of the tech industry, with stints as CEO of Evite and…

8 min
why your next deal may be a partnership

When Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase announced a new alliance in early 2018, the partnership turned heads. Three companies, giants in their respective industries, were going to pool their resources and work together. The new venture’s goal: targeting waste in the current healthcare system and improving patient service, initially for those covered by the three companies’ health insurance policies, but with the potential to expand. Partnerships between businesses have a long history and come in many forms, including strategic alliances and joint ventures (JVs). The Amazon–Berkshire–JPMorgan deal shows how companies today, responding to technological disruption, geopolitical uncertainty, regulatory overhaul, and demographic shifts, are pushing such partnerships beyond their traditional limits. The aim is often to bring together expertise to expand the companies’ reach, drive growth, and cope with rising competition.…

9 min
what you can learn from your employee networks

At many large organizations, employees have the opportunity to participate in groups that bring together coworkers with various commonalities. According to estimates from the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have such networks. Often referred to as employee resource groups (ERGs), these networks provide a place for women, veterans, LGBT employees, people of color, people with disabilities, working parents, and others to connect with one another and help ensure that the workplace welcomes and supports their productivity. It’s rare for a popular corporate mainstay to go unmeasured, but the value of employee resource groups (ERGs) is notoriously difficult to quantify. From the first U.S. ERG —formed by African-American employees at Xerox in 1964 to address issues of discrimination — through today,…