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The most important business objectives for CEOs

The Sunday Times recently published a Raconteur report (, The Future CEO, in which global CEOs were asked about their objectives beyond simply building a successful business. Ensuring long-term success by investing in the future came out top of the list of objectives. But the future is no easy task for the CEO to get his or her head around. The baseball-playing philosopher Yogi Berra famously said that “it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. Of more relevance for CEOs now, was his remark that, “the future ain’t what it used to be”.

Change in the big picture external environment is everywhere apparent. A survey of business leaders by the Korn Ferry Institute found that 61 percent thought they were going through revolutionary times. Tom Johnson, Chief Digital Officer at WPP’s Mindshare, has stated that, “Disruption isn’t specific to a new industry or new technology, it now permeates every facet of business and every type of industry … it means, as a leader, you constantly have to evolve your vision”.

This is no easy task for the CEO to do. The pace and scale of change in the economy, politics and future megatrends, such as technology, demography and consumer behaviour is awesome. This macro strategic risk is not something the CEO can ignore, but it is something he or she is very unlikely to be expert on. In ordinary times this might not be a problem, but in extraordinary times it is a paramount issue.

The Society of Actuaries has reported that strategic risk accounts for the root cause of decline in public companies in almost two-thirds of cases. John Chambers, former CEO of CISCO has speculated that perhaps 40 percent of the world’s leading companies may not exist in a meaningful way ten years from now.

The Raconteur report states that, “there are real challenges for business leaders at the moment, including the rise of AI, political volatility and demographic changes, all of which add to the uncertainty they face … to succeed in this new context leaders don’t just need to change their behaviour but will also have to adapt how they think”.

CEOforesight wants to help business leaders change the way they think about the future business environment in which they will operate.

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