A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.
—Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, 1848
A new specter is haunting Europe and other parts of the West—the specter of absolute decline. Faced with that threat, an alliance of governments is primarily addressing its symptoms by cutting spending, regulating banks, revising treaties, and reassuring markets. Harder to fix are the underlying causes of the crisis, whether these are understood to be stagnant productivity, rising welfare costs, superannuated infrastructure, or uncompetitive markets.
But if all we do is address the symptoms, the patient won’t recover. Governments’ first priority must be to stabilize the current situation. They then need to move decisively to address the original causes of the crisis and to shape a better future. In other words, they need a strategy. Yet many governments have lost confidence in strategy, resorting instead to what Paul Cornish calls
Rather than abandon strategy altogether, politicians and civil servants need to learn from these failures and frustrations. Around the world, public-sector innovators are doing just that, evolving a style of strategy that combines clear goals with flexible methods. This “adaptive strategy”
ABOUT BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP
Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we work closely with clients to embrace a transformational approach aimed at benefiting all stakeholders—empowering organizations to grow, build sustainable competitive advantage, and drive positive societal impact.
Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives that question the status quo and spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting, technology and design, and corporate and digital ventures. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, fueled by the goal of helping our clients thrive and enabling them to make the world a better place.
© Boston Consulting Group 2024. All rights reserved.
For information or permission to reprint, please contact BCG at email@example.com. To find the latest BCG content and register to receive e-alerts on this topic or others, please visit bcg.com. Follow Boston Consulting Group on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter).