• Paul Barnett

What it takes to be a CEO in the 2020s

Updated: Dec 5, 2020



The Strategic Management Forum is not the only organisation talking about why “CEOs say the job has got harder.” The latest issue of the Economist says, “on paper this is a golden age for bosses”, but then says, “bosses are right that something has changed. The nature of the job is being disrupted. In particular, CEOs’ mechanism for exercising control over their vast enterprises is failing, and where and why firms operate is in flux. That has big implications for business, and for anyone climbing the corporate ladder”.


This topic is the focus of the Lead article in the just published issue of the Economist. It goes on to say CEOs face “big changes, starting with how they control their firms”. Until recently “The firm and the CEO have had clear jurisdiction over a defined set of assets, staff, products and proprietary information”. That is not true today.


Now, “32% of firms in the S&P 500 of big American firms invest more in intangible assets than physical ones, and 61% of the market value of the S&P 500 sits in intangibles such as research and development (R&D), customers linked by network effects, brands and data”. The implication of this is “the link between the CEO authorising investment and getting results is unpredictable and opaque”. Consider how Critical Systems Thinking and Practice may help reduce the negative consequences of unpredictability, and read the Full Article


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