Reimagine your entire brand portfolio

The COVID-19 crisis has significantly affected demand for consumer packaged goods (CPG). People are doing more from home, trying new brands, and adjusting their purchases across price points and stores. And as safety concerns, economic anxiety, and a continued focus on health, wellness, and sustainability lead consumers to realize that there are many things they can do without, and a few things they can’t, there will be implications for CPG companies that should lead them to rethink their innovation strategy and brand portfolio choices.

COVID-19 is affecting different parts of the CPG sector in different ways. Many CPG manufacturers, for example, especially in food and beverage categories, have benefited from a spike in demand due to short-term pantry loading, with a sustained bump in sales after that due to more at-home activities. At the same time, e-commerce sales have increased, for both pick-up at the store and home delivery. And

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Thinking productively about the future

If you are like most leaders, you were unprepared for the novel coronavirus and the disruptive impact it has had on lives, livelihoods, and business. You may have taken part in crisis management training, and you probably had scenario-planning exercises in place in your organization. Even so, we bet you were surprised, if not blindsided, by the pandemic, how fast the crisis unfolded, and what your leadership team needed to do as a result.

In today’s world of accelerated change, companies frequently will find themselves in situations in which they don’t know what is going to happen next. With so much uncertainty and few straightforward answers, it is easier to focus on near-term actions and “getting things done.” Preparing for an unknowable future is another matter entirely, but it’s just as important — it can show you new opportunities and prepare you for potential disruption, which are both outcomes that

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Ambiguous times are no time for ambiguous leadership

In a previous job, I worked for a manager who was terrific in almost all the ways you’d want a leader to be terrific — she was smart, straightforward, consistent, ambitious for great work. But she did have a small email tic that would occasionally give me pause. If I had to be out of the office, I would send her a note the night before. Her response was always the same: “Fine.”

That simple word, so clear in conversation, becomes more complicated in an email, in which there is no context or signal of tone. Did she mean fine as in, “Sure, no problem”? Or was it more of a, “Well (sigh), okay”? I’m fairly confident it was the former, but I was never 100 percent certain.

I’ve been thinking about those small moments of uncertain communication lately, as the COVID-19 crisis has prompted countless companies to shut their

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Restoring craft to work

You’ve probably heard these stories before. There’s the proud janitor at NASA who tells President Kennedy that he isn’t just sweeping up; he is helping put a man on the moon. And the gung-ho stonemason who tells architect Christopher Wren that he isn’t just hammering rock; he is building a cathedral to God’s glory. The stories are popular, even though they probably never happened. And they get told and retold to support the power of purpose. It’s the subtext that bothers me.

Invariably, the moral of these stories is that employers (a label that literally defines the rest of us as something to be used) need to provide employees with a purpose. This suggests that many jobs are, in and of themselves, meaningless. It also implies that people don’t care about the work they do — that they are wastrels.

I don’t know if the relationship between meaningless work and

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Media and telecommunications companies must reinvent customer experience in response to COVID-19

Note: This column is the fifth in a series about redefining experiences in this time of great change and isolation, and reimagining them to emphasize the importance of human connection. The first can be found here, the second here,  third here, and the fourth here.

It’s fair to say no industry has been more crucial to maintaining connectivity and continuity during these days of social isolation and remote working than the technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) sector. And the disruption wrought by the pandemic has solidified the deep synergies across this sector: In an increasingly digitized world, pipes (telcos), platform (tech), and product (entertainment and media content) have become interdependent.

Although TMT companies have been focused on digital acceleration and continuity, their customers have been hungering for deeper connections — innovative experiences, learning, creativity, and inspiration. People have been forced to find alternative pathways to the

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The urgent need for sophisticated leadership

In the 2019 PwC Global Crisis SurveyPDF, 69 percent of respondents said they expected a global crisis in the next five years, most likely due to a financial meltdown or technology failure. Little did they know how prescient they were. Just nine months after the survey was released, an entirely different and unexpected medical and public health crisis — COVID-19 — has fundamentally altered the world. If driving change in the uncertain and turbulent environment that existed at the beginning of 2020 was a complex challenge, the degree of difficulty has now been ramped up significantly.

As we recently noted in these pages, five global forces — asymmetry of wealth, disruption, age disparities, polarization, and loss of trust — which together we’ve termed ADAPT, were already changing the way millions of people live and work. The pandemic has sharply accelerated these forces.

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