Shape our society and business through the challenges ahead of us

24. marts 2017

Ledernes KompetenceCenter is a partner of Thinkers50 European Business Forum, which brings together some of the best thinkers and CEOs in the world. Some of theese great business thinkers have written recommendations for CEOs, in an essay series called "Letters to the CEOs". As a partner, we get to publish theese letters for your enjoyment.

By Mark Esposito


Dear CEO

The most pressing issue I see today is the failure of politics in several democracies, unable to thrive our growth towards an integrative model of inclusion, tolerance and prosperity. At the same time, the persistent low growth in our economies pushes organizations even more towards the side-effects of volatility, with emotional markets that feel a sense of loss on how we can restart our economic engines and build new inroads for the kind of economic infrastructure we need, in order for us to navigate safely among the new tenets of the century.

The ongoing fluctuations of markets and the inescapable accelerations of emerging economies are sending distress signals to our societies, which are plagued by political impasses and lack of governability, hence making the role of business leaders particularly challenging. At the same time, our analytical tools have become more complex but the predictive assumption of events has not necessarily changed from the undercurrents of the previous industrial models. The intersection between linear reality and incremental valuation, with the increasingly complex socio-economic condition of the world, makes it hard for business to make decisions and the previous algorithm, expensively ineffective.

The way we assess risk today has not necessarily changed by the way we did it in the past. We continue to rely on data which is primarily captured at the macro level and which does not model the experience of reality any more. There is sense of inadequacy between the way we collect data and the way data is misrepresentative of the real state of play of the world.

Our models of control of variables (consumers, markets, pricing etc…) continues to think of business as analytical as it can be, with a myriad of frameworks and protocols and processes that have de-humanized business.

Society these days though, is no longer following trajectories that echo the past.

Every organization, client or start-up shapes our socio-economic landscape with a unique and novel business proposition/model, which generates the richest epoch in history in terms of opportunities and ideas. Large macro trends are shaping new plots for our societies, which will inexorably transform it, and our ability to navigate and make sense of those trends will be the new competitive analysis of firms. This requires urgent action because major events are developing in the chemistry of our socio-economic structure (economic geography, demographic evolution, resource scarcity and rising inequality) but our current modus operandi is still anchored on anachronistic views of the world.

The key question I invite you to consider when you are talking to yourself about the direction of the world but also the direction of your own organization as well as your personal life is how can we integrate asymmetry, lack of order and increasing complexity in our own default thinking and thrive decisions and scenarios by embracing the monumental changes that the last 30 years have inferred on our societies. How can you integrate a new rationale of “sense-ability” in which business becomes much more humanized, closer to the buzz of society and a catalyst for positive change? How can you thrive and succeed in a world in which knowledge is no longer the differentiating factor and the capital is no longer the primary requirements of success?

How can you frugally innovate and improve the state of the world, by providing accessible innovations and solutions to the varied tiers of our global society?

How can you converge, unify, intermediate, bind, integrate and include diversity as part of our intangible assets and build from it?

While the above questions may look daunting and overwhelming, they are just puncture points of a greater unleash of potential that your organizations can lead, as proponents of the future. So in the spirit of collaboration, I invite you to the following tasks:

  • Build circular economies in your value chains, so you can decouple growth from resources. This will make you a fair player and will allow you to save costs

  • Build your raison d’etre on people and put them always at the center of what defines your choices in life. Don’t objectivize reality. There isn’t such a thing!

  • Use your capital and your financial acumen to finance those tasks and projects that have the potential to innovate our world by creating new jobs.

  • Don’t measure business in a strict financial manner only. Find complimentary ways to integrate nonfinancial measurements into your key decisions.

  • Use Artificial Intelligence and Automation to enhance people’s lives, not to replace them or increase the financial performance solely.

  • Challenge the status quo of your organization if you feel that the ghosts of past choices are handcuffing your decisions today.

  • Be humble and the world will open to you. Be a steward and the world will serve you. Be kind with those in need so they will become your most loyal allies. Do not fear the future, be it.

My conclusive wish is to see you as one of the architect that will shape our society and business through the challenges ahead of us. As a son, a husband and a father, I need your help to give our future generation a chance to reach and breach new important frontiers.

Thank you


Mark Esposito

About Mark Esposito

Mark Esposito SomeMark Esposito teaches at the Harvard Extension School and is a tenured professor at Grenoble Graduate School of Business and a Senior Associate at the University of Cambridge Institute in Sustainability Leadership. He is also an Adjunct Professor at IE Business School in Spain. 

Esposito is the author and co-author of nine books including From Hubris to Disgrace (Routledge, 2015). He was among the up-and-coming thinkers on the Thinkers50 Radar in 2016.