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Adapting strategy for a sustainable future

A fundamental part of the board’s role is overseeing strategy. But boards now need to view strategy, and the company, in a larger context—including the macro trends impacting stakeholders, businesses and the world. Across the globe, leaders in business, politics, and society point to a common set of concerns we call the ADAPT framework—asymmetry, disruption, age, polarization, and trust. Within these concerns lie four unfolding crises including prosperity, technology, institutional legitimacy, and leadership. 

Adapting strategy for a sustainable future will help directors confront these crises, uncover opportunities, build a more resilient future, and position their companies to take on change.

In crisis lies opportunity. We have the chance now to build a more sustainable and resilient future. A future in which all people can thrive.

ADAPT framework and core crises

Across the globe, leaders in business, politics, and society point to a common set of concerns. A team at PwC spearheaded by our global strategy leader, Blair Sheppard, have dubbed this the “ADAPT” framework. As outlined in the book Ten Years To Midnight, they describe a world in which asymmetry, disruption, age, polarization, and trust are fundamentally changing the way billions of people live and work. Within these concerns lie four core crises that are impacting our institutions, big and small, local and global. 

They are crises of: 

  • Prosperity 

  • Technology 

  • Institutional legitimacy 

  • Leadership

What the board can do to drive a sustainable future

While the executive team’s job is to focus on the “today” and the “tomorrow,” directors have the duty to take the long view. By understanding these macro trends, board members can help their companies envision the future and the company’s role as that future evolves.

To put this into practice: 

  • Ensure the board is hearing from outside experts to understand macro trends. 

  • Integrate key global trends and opportunities into risk assessment and strategy oversight. Understand how the company could be affected—and when. 

  • Work with management to identify the metrics that should be regularly tracked and reported to the board. 

  • Examine implications of macro trends for the company’s own population of employees and the communities in which it operates. Does the company have programs in place to address the pressing issues of today and tomorrow? If not, what should those plans look like? 

  • Ensure that management sets social impact goals, and that the board holds them accountable. Be transparent with stakeholders about what those goals are and how the company will achieve them. 

Contact us

Maria Castañón Moats

Maria Castañón Moats

Governance Insights Center Leader, PwC US

Paul DeNicola

Paul DeNicola

Principal, Governance Insights Center, PwC US

Leah Malone

Leah Malone

Director, Governance Insights Center, PwC US

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