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Leading beyond the Great Disruption

A time for reflection, a time for reinvention

The enormous health, economic and humanitarian challenges of the past year have led to a Great Disruption that challenges leaders to reinvent their organisations, with an orientation toward sustainable growth, resilience and purpose.

Executive summary

The COVID-19 global pandemic triggered one of the most significant global disruptions in recent history. This Great Disruption—and the resulting shocks to economies, health systems and humanity more broadly—exposed inherent weaknesses in the global economy and social fabric. Unsustainable business practices, rising geopolitical tensions, ineffective public systems, amplified social inequalities and changing expectations at individual and collective levels have reshaped the world over the past year.

The Great Disruption has also offered leaders an opportunity to reflect, to incorporate learnings and to set a bold, enduring path of reinvention for their enterprise. To embrace this opportunity, leaders and their teams should develop an aligned perspective and plan across three key shifts:

Building more resilient organisations—leading collaboratively across the organisation for legacy; intentionally solving for sustainable growth; and embedding organisational resilience and flexibility.

Humanising work and workplaces—adapting the nature and structure of work itself, to unlock and support the full potential of the workforce.

Unlocking the value of digital—capitalising on the pervasive shift to digital, making investments to generate new sources of value.

The three key shifts must be understood in the context of the evolving global health situation and of the interrelated trends that are shaping individual, societal and business behaviour. The impact and implications of these trends vary across industries and geographies.

The world will emerge from the Great Disruption, but leaders should not expect a period of calm; rather, they can anticipate an environment that continues to be characterised by instability, change and uncertainty. At the same time, the pandemic has created tremendous learning opportunities for leaders, providing the impetus for change as they reinvent their enterprises for a better future.

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