This Boston Consulting Group podcast series looks around the corner of today’s big business and social issues. The goal—the so what—is to make sense of today and prepare busy leaders and executives for the day after tomorrow.
Award-winning British journalist Georgie Frost interviews the leading thinkers and doers at BCG on the trends, developments, and ideas that will shape and disrupt the future. Topics range from global warming, COVID-19, business resilience, and social inequity to the influence of digital technology on everything. This is not your typical business strategy podcast.
Corporate leaders often view sustainable products as a series of technical challenges—how to decarbonize the supply chain, reduce waste in manufacturing, eliminate plastic packaging, and so on. But what about the human dimensions? Shalini Unnikrishnan, a leader on social impact at BCG, discusses the importance of designing, marketing, and pricing products through the lens of the consumer. She also discussed the need to create ecosystems of like-minded companies and institutions and to connect sustainability to a company’s core purpose.
Nan DasGupta played soccer in her youth and worked as an engineer at GE early in her career, so she has firsthand experience in pushing into male-dominated fields. DasGupta, a BCG people and organization expert and Women@BCG leader, talks about the difficulties in breaking down bias at work, how bias prevents men from assuming more caregiving responsibilities, the importance of role models, and why nobody wants to talk about menopause.
Pay, promotion, and benefits have been the traditional carrots for hiring, exciting, and retaining employees. But feeling safe, challenged, and valued at work can be even more important than a paycheck, says Gabi Novacek, a BCG Henderson Institute fellow researching diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In the face of lagging and highly volatile demand, how can airlines, hotel chains, and cruise lines prepare for the future? Jason Guggenheim, BCG’s global leader of travel and tourism, talks analytics, adjacent business opportunities, and sustainability challenges.
Neveen Awad is the leader of BCG’s Detroit office and an expert in gender diversity in technology. She talks about her own tech journey, the insights women can bring to tech, how paternity leave can be for a boon for women in leadership—and more.
To create inclusive workforces and inclusive products, companies must treat inclusion as a a business innovation, explains Kedra Newsom Reeves, colead of BCG’s North America Center for Inclusion and Equity. Bridging the racial wealth gap requires committed resources and responsibilities.
Cell phones, social media, messaging software, and multitasking are robbing our attention, as our monkey minds jump from one notification to another. Mickey McManus, a BCG senior advisor and leadership coach, explains how these distractions strip our cognitive capacity and even our ability to make ethical decisions. Is this the price of “progress,” or is there something to be done? McManus offers tips for everyone from the board and C-suite to the front line to enable companies and employees to regain control of our cognition.
Ashley Grice finds great joy, meaning, and sometimes peril in words. As the CEO of BCG BrightHouse, Grice helps organizations find their purpose. Words are her instruments of trade. They can help bring strategy to life and inspire imagination and wonder. But by choosing words that are impersonal, flat, and cold, CEOs and other leaders frequently miss the chance to connect with their people. Grice explains how leaders can use language more effectively and what to do when their words are misunderstood. She also reads two poems—her own.
As the pandemic rumbles on, many countries have been suffering shortages and panic buying as global supply chains wobble. Much of that will likely ease over the coming months, but systemic challenges remain. In this episode, Dustin Burke, one of BCG’s leaders in manufacturing and supply chains, urges companies to use the experience of the last 18 months to build resilience and reliability into their operations without adding cost and redundancy. How do companies achieve better access to real-time data for greater visibility into potential shortages and risks? Could we see greater cooperation within—and even across—industries to protect supply chains of essential components? And looking to the long term, how can we expect automation and artificial intelligence to help ease labor shortages?
The pandemic has exposed fissures in the way we work, which is stuck in the industrial age. Deborah Lovich, who leads BCG’s people strategy topic, and Brian Elliott, executive leader and senior vice president of Future Forum, talk about why leaders want to return to the office and many workers don’t, why water coolers are not the source of inspiration, and how organizations can start to recalibrate their outdated approach to leadership, work, culture, and purpose.
How can organizations become more experimental? Julia Dhar, the cofounder and leader of BeSmart, BCG’s behavioral economics and insights initiative, says identify a big problem, start small, and do not overly worry that academics may criticize your experiment. As a bonus, Dhar provides her three favorite nudges for everyday living.
Lil Miquela, a 19-year-old TikTok influencer with more than 3 million followers, has promoted Calvin Klein, Prada, and other top fashion brands. She also happens to be an avatar, an online robot created by a startup with venture funding. Sarah Willersdorf, BCG’s global head of luxury, explores the somewhat wacky but very real intersection of fashion and the metaverse, explaining what the virtual world holds in store for consumers and brands.
Most transitions are hard—the transition to net zero is especially so. But with political will, new business models, and major investments, saving the planet does not have to break the bank. In fact, Jens Burchardt, BCG’s global expert on climate impact and cofounder of the firm’s Center for Climate and Sustainability, argues that companies and countries that aggressively address climate issues will grow more swiftly than their slower counterparts. Many consumers, he says, would gladly pay 2% extra for net-zero products and services, a modest premium that would allow many companies today to go green.
Uncertainty is not a dirty word. While it may be impossible to predict the future, preparing for it is possible. Alan Iny, BCG’s partner and director of creativity and scenarios, explains that scenario planning and other exercises leave us better able to harness the future, whatever shape it takes. Iny acknowledges that this is hard work. Albert Einstein once doubted that atomic energy could be harnessed. But doubt itself is key to breaking free of stale business models and unlocking creativity.
“The So What from BCG,” a new podcast series, gets straight to the point of ideas that will shape and disrupt the future. Award-winning British journalist Georgie Frost interviews the leading thinkers and doers at BCG on topics ranging from global warming, COVID-19, business resilience, and social inequity to the influence of digital technology on everything. Look for a new episode every two weeks, starting November 3.
Georgie Frost is an award-winning freelance finance broadcaster and journalist. She began her career as a sports journalist at the Guardian Media Group before hosting sports shows on BBC Radio. In 2014, she created a daily finance-based talk radio show on Share Radio, winning honors as the financial broadcaster of the year and as one of the top five best new presenters in the UK at the APA Awards. She has written for the Financial Times, the Sunday Times, and the Daily Mail and appeared as a sports and financial commentator in national newspapers as well as on ITV, Sky Sports Mix, and BBC One. She has written and hosted the Daily Mail’s “This is Money” podcast for the past five years.
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