strategy+business Summer 2020

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
an uncertain hour

Organizations of all sizes rest on planning for discrete amounts of time: a five-year pro forma, the full-year budget, weekly schedules, and daily stand-ups. Like a metronome, these plans provide a rhythm, keep people on task, and provide a sense of certainty — even if the pace and divisions are arbitrary. But what happens when time effectively stops, or slows down dramatically? When an extraordinarily disruptive external event forces large chunks of the economy to shutter? The time horizon both contracts (we can’t really plan for the long term) and expands (we don’t know when things will go back to normal). As the structures that keep people focused fade away, they are replaced with uncertainty at best, and existential dread at worst. In these most uncertain hours, leaders must respond proactively. But…

6 min
seven key actions business can take to mitigate the effects of covid-19

At PwC’s Global Crisis Centre, we deal with crises every day. But earlier this year, as the COVID-19 outbreak worsened, the volume of calls fielded by our teams noticeably increased. By the end of February, the phones were ringing off the hook. Business leaders were concerned, and rightly so, for the welfare of their people and their organizations. No crisis is an isolated, neatly contained incident, and the outbreak of COVID-19 is exceptional by any standards. It comes with extreme scope and levels of uncertainty. It’s a situation that is well beyond the experience of most business leaders. The median tenure of a CEO is five years, and the last epidemic that approached anything near this scale was SARS outbreak in 2003. SARS infected more than 8,000 people worldwide and lasted…

5 min
how to help your employees own your strategy

If there’s one thing many of the leaders I’ve spoken with lately have in common, it’s that they feel pressured to roll out new strategies more quickly, with more impact. These leaders recognize the importance of communication — of getting the message out to employees about where the organization is headed and why. To do so, they often default to the “cascade” approach: holding high-energy town hall meetings, posting on internal social media, writing executive blog posts on intranet pages, hosting lunch-and-learn sessions. They work hard to craft a compelling message at the top and send it on its way. A cascade is similar to the waterfall model in software development, wherein customers provide detailed specifications at the beginning, and developers build in a linear sequence, which they hope will hit…

6 min
the long nose of augmented reality

Every five years or so, I contemplate cutting my hair into a fringe. Experience should have taught me by now that this is always a bad idea, but nevertheless, I live in hope that perhaps this time, I’ll really look like a French model. The last time I wanted to make a bad decision about my hair, L’Oréal hadn’t yet put out its Web-based augmented reality (AR) app that would allow me, in theory, to try out “countless” hairstyles and colors, just by uploading a picture of myself and applying a filter-style overlay. L’Oréal’s app was released in 2018, and although “countless” was a bit of an overstatement — there are 56 — I now know approximately what I’d look like in a bad wig. I’m no closer to deciding about…

7 min
is your board risk-ready?

Your company’s board of directors is charged with reviewing all kinds of risks to the corporation. But how well prepared are its members to do so? How ready are directors to evaluate, communicate, and act on risks — and thus to better ensure that your company is doing a good job? A great deal rides on the answers to these questions. Risk oversight of the boards themselves is what the Conference Board, a business membership and research organization, recently called the next frontier in corporate governance. “If boards really understand how to take risks well, their organizations will do better,” said David Koenig, founder of the Directors and Chief Risk Officers group (DCRO), an industry organization that formed after the 2008 financial crisis. Responding to an overwhelming sense that boards didn’t accurately…

5 min
it’s time to stop calling every firm that uses technology a tech company

Online cycling-class provider Peloton isn’t a tech company. Nor are ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft, work-space provider WeWork, online fashion stylist Stitch Fix, meal delivery service Blue Apron, or content creator and curator Netflix, to name just a few that have been given that moniker. The overuse of tech as the modifier du jour recalls the Internet-bubble age. In the late 1990s, companies that weren’t centered on clicks or whose online-oriented business was founded in vain added .com to their names to get Wall Street cred and attract venture capital. Now, it seems, tech is — or wants to be — a similarly magic word. To be sure, digital technology is an enabler, maybe the most powerful one since electric power. Technology’s capabilities have grown to the degree that it not only…