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As leaders in organizations of all kinds grapple with the forces reshaping their world, and with challenging questions about business’s role in society, they are finding that the keys to business success have changed. In many industries, growth is harder to sustain, survival is not a given, and a narrow focus on financial performance is not enough.

The formula for business success that worked a decade ago doesn’t necessarily work today. And leaders can’t know for sure what will work ten years from now. To win in the 2020s—and beyond—change will not be a choice.

Business leaders need a new agenda, one that consists of five imperatives that can help companies find opportunity in uncertainty, get ahead of the social, technological, and political trends that will define the future of business, and seize the opportunity to play new roles and carve out new competitive spaces.

The successful companies in the 2020s won’t ignore the massive shifts all around them. They’ll meet those shifts head-on.

An Agenda for Winning the ’20s

Master the New Logic of Competition

To succeed in the 2020s, companies will need to put aside the old rules of the game and compete on multiple new dimensions.

  • In a dynamic and complex environment, planning and predicting won’t necessarily lead to business success. 
  • Successful companies in the coming decade will compete on their ability to learn faster than their rivals, adapt to constant change, imagine entirely new possibilities, and collaborate in business ecosystems.

Read our experts’ views on the new logic of competition

Design the Company of the Future

Today’s organizations were created for stability. Tomorrow’s must be built for change.

  • As the familiar paths to business success disappear, survival depends on the ability to learn and adapt. Indeed, the future of business hinges on learning. 
  • Technology will help companies gain insight from data, but companies still need people. It takes a new kind of enterprise to figure out the most potent combination of artificial and human intelligence.

What does the company of the future look like? Learn more

Apply the Science of Organizational Change

Large transformation efforts often fail, so why even try? Because standing still is not an option.

  • Companies must change even when things are going well. Indeed, the capacity for continual change is a critical imperative for business success in the 2020s.
  • Business leaders can turn change into an opportunity. There’s no recipe to follow for transformation, but data and analytics make it possible to decode what works and what doesn’t.

Read more about the challenges and opportunities of change

Embrace the Business Imperative of Diversity

Diversity isn’t just a moral issue. In the business world, as in the natural world, diversity is a crucial source of strength and adaptability.

  • Research shows a link between a company’s diversity and its capacity for innovation and resilience.
  • For business success, it’s not enough to increase the diversity of the workforce. Leaders also need to create an environment where new perspectives are welcomed and encouraged.

Explore our research on the benefits of diversity

Optimize for Both Social and Business Value

The future of business must be about more than business.

  • As the public’s trust in business wavers, political and economic uncertainty around the globe increases, and climate change intensifies, companies must be part of the solution by creating social as well as economic value.
  • Companies will thrive in the 2020s—and beyond—only if they have sustainable relationships with the social, political, and environmental systems they participate in.

Read more about serving all stakeholders, not just shareholders
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