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Forces of nature

The concept of a business ecosystem was first articulated by the strategist James F. Moore in his seminal 1993 Harvard Business Review article, “Predators and Prey: A New Ecology of Competition,” and the idea has since gained substantial currency. A business ecosystem is a community of enterprises and related organizations that coevolve over time and align themselves with directions set by one or more central companies. Examples of business ecosystems include a computer company and its users, investors, and third-party app developers; or an energy company with its network of suppliers, customers, traders, and resellers; or an auto manufacturer and the suppliers, retailers, and marketers that surround it.

The ecological analogy is apt because it emphasizes the fact that ecosystem members may both cooperate and compete with one another in complex ways that lead the entire community of enterprises to thrive. But there’s a key difference between biological

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Revealing leaders’ blind spots

Senior executives, accustomed to annual performance reviews and 360-degree assessments, can be quick to acknowledge that certain aspects of their leadership style need more work. These might include having better time management skills, being more empathetic with coworkers, or focusing more on their team. The reviews represent an exercise in self-awareness that most leaders perform believing they can accurately figure out the areas in which they need to improve.

But what happens when you ask the members of their team what they think the boss should work on to be a more effective leader? The results are both unexpected and revelatory, and have implications not only for a leader’s performance but also for that of his or her company.

Consider the example of Stephen (not his real name), the CEO of a 100-year-old organization that is navigating a fundamental shift in its business model. A dynamic speaker who radiates authenticity

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How to help employees learn new skills amid a crisis

Despite years of warnings, the skills gap is on the rise — not just in the United States, but around the world. The PwC Talent Trends 2019 report found that 79 percent of CEOs worldwide “are concerned that a lack of essential skills in their workforce is threatening the future growth of their organization,” compared to 53 percent in 2012.

The Society for Human Resource Management, in a survey of 20,000 U.S.-based members, found (pdf) that the skills shortage is “a top concern that needs to be addressed.” Three-quarters of HR professionals who are having difficulty recruiting “say there is a shortage of skills in candidates for job openings.”

As Laurent Probst and Christian Scharff, partners with PwC Luxembourg, have reported in s+b, upskilling is crucial. The drive to build new skills for a new world, to expand the capabilities of existing employees, “can take place at

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Pride and the pandemic

My sister-in-law texted two photos to our extended family on March 31. One was of a sign installed on the lawn of the Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, a 183-bed not-for-profit hospital in Woodbridge, Va. It read “HEROES WORK HERE” in big, colorful letters. The other was of my nephew, wearing scrubs, gloves, and goggles, in the entrance to the hospital’s emergency room, where he’s been working 12-hour shifts. We’re all worried about him. We’re also damn proud of him.

The daily stream of reports detailing the brave work of medical professionals around the world these past few weeks has been a revelation. Facing a virus without a cure and often working despite critical shortages of personal protective equipment, many of these people have been risking their lives simply by walking into work.

They aren’t the only ones working far from the comparative safety of home in this pandemic. Delivery

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Spark and sustain growth by focusing on company culture

As companies all over the world reel from the effects of the novel coronavirus, a multitude of challenges, including slower growth, seem inevitable. Although taking care of employees and customers is paramount, prudent leaders must also pull themselves out of crisis mode and think about the future. Focusing on culture should be a priority, because a company’s culture can either support or potentially derail its progress. By identifying the critical behaviors that must be embedded in your organization to bring that growth-enhancing culture to life, you can help your company weather these turbulent times and come out of them even stronger than before.

Proof that culture matters

At PwC, we believe companies must align their strategy, operating model, and culture. Too often, organizations focus only on their strategy and operating model because they seem easier to change. But, as well-known management consultant, educator, and author Peter Drucker used to say,

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Fueling your company’s urge to surge

Imagine you are a business leader operating a decade from now. Your organization has become the unassailable leader in its market. How did this happen?

In years past, you were competing head-on with several other players. Each time you tried to move ahead, your competitors kept up with you. You watched what they did, and if you noticed them doing something new, you would try it out yourself to make sure they didn’t build a lead over you.

But now, you have left your competitors behind. Your organization has been able to command higher margins and win business more easily. Suppliers and financiers beat a path to your door. The best talent wants to work for you, and you can afford to pay them more than your competitors can. If this continues, you may be able to dominate your industry for decades to come.

This story is an example of

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