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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 organizations, 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 organizations—leading collaboratively across the organization for legacy; intentionally solving for sustainable growth; and embedding organizational resilience and flexibility.

Humanizing 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—capitalizing 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 behavior. 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 characterized 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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