strategy+business Winter 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

3 min
the future, now

“I did not know that I would make 10 years’ worth of decisions in 10 weeks,” the CEO of a large tech platform recently told the Wall Street Journal. That’s how things have gone since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The crisis accelerated some existing trends and birthed others, creating a few years of wrenching change in a matter of days. As a result, the future is, in a very real way, happening now. Nowhere is this more true than in the vast US$2.1 trillion global entertainment and media industry, in which consumer behavior shifted rapidly. In our cover story, “Forward to normal,” Dan Bunyan and Vikram Dhaliwal of PwC describe how companies are constructing business models that can meet consumers where they are (and where they will be) — namely, at…

8 min
consumer companies must take leaps, not steps

Not long ago, most people went to work at a workplace — not in their basements or bedrooms. Homeschooling was a rarity. And buying groceries online was something relatively few shoppers were comfortable doing. What a difference a few months can make. It turns out that people are much more open to change than businesses expected. They’ve rushed online to shop. They are experimenting freely to find what works best for them. And they are proving remarkably adept with technology. “During the pandemic, we’ve seen an unprecedented acceleration of trends that emerged over the past five years,” says Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation. “Innovations are taking place in a matter of just months that would normally take years, in areas like acceleration of e-commerce offerings, blending…

10 min
how leaders can promote racial justice in the workplace

The late Georgia congressman John Lewis had a well-earned reputation for being uncannily optimistic, courageous, and values-driven. These characteristics were also core to his identity as a leader. Although Lewis was brutally beaten by police during a 1965 civil rights march in Selma, Ala., he said, “I have an obligation to continue to do what I can to help because I am here to continue to tell the story.” His final public statement challenged us to get into “good trouble, necessary trouble” by pursuing nonviolent protest and taking a stand against injustice and in favor of unity and peace. He reminded us that rocking, and even capsizing, the boat — not returning to business as usual — is needed to bring about a world that is more racially just than…

10 min
transforming information into insight

As the coronavirus pandemic unfolded, one leading global engineering and technology services company found itself well positioned to meet unprecedented challenges. The firm had kicked off a digital transformation project in 2019, including investing in a data and analytics program equipped with advanced tools. For example, it enhanced digital collaboration among engineers using next-generation design software, it automated resource allocation based on skill sets, and it offered business reporting on executives’ mobile devices. A few weeks into the crisis, it became clear that in several major countries in which the company operated, engineering and construction were likely to be considered essential services. The chief information officer began scenario planning. He determined that supporting remote work would be critical in the weeks and months that followed and asked regional leadership and IT…

7 min
connecting the dots in an uncertain world

In 1945, a U.S. defense contractor employee was working on the magnetron, a microwave-emitting tube used in radar systems to detect Nazi warplanes, when he noticed something unexpected: The bar of chocolate in his coat was melting. Percy Lebaron Spencer hadn’t been the first to observe this effect of the magnetron, but he was the first to be curious enough to experiment with it. With a prototyped metal box and a high-density electromagnetic field, he investigated its effect on different foods, such as popcorn and eggs. The first microwave was born, with a helping hand from serendipity. In his new book, The Serendipity Mindset, Christian Busch, director of the global economy program at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, makes the case that serendipity is the result of a sensibility…

5 min
businesses can fast-track innovation to help during a crisis

Businesses around the world are looking for ways to help in response to the pandemic, while continuing to sell products and services and keep people employed. From the C-suite to managers to employees at all levels, great ideas are popping up. But how can they be turned into reality as quickly as possible? I have some experience on this front. When Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, I was with the advertising and marketing agency Saatchi & Saatchi. My team and I were sitting in a bar with the brand team for Tide, one of our biggest clients. We got to talking about how we’d love to create something to help. Pens came out, and together we scribbled on the back of a napkin. Two weeks later, our…