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CEOs and investors overwhelmingly agree that companies must be more nimble to effectively manage black swan events.

In an environment of pervasive uncertainty, disruption is a given. Heading into the first half of 2023, CEOs and investors alike are expecting wide-ranging areas of upheaval (Figure 9) to present significant challenges and opportunities.

Question: In which of the following areas is your business preparing for further disruption in 2023?

Figure 9: Top disruptors for CEOs

While top issues vary by region, CEOs of the world’s largest companies are anticipating and preparing to mitigate risk in geopolitics and ESG at a far greater rate than investors. This suggests that CEOs are more focused on these issues than investors expect them to be. Meanwhile, investors believe that CEOs should step up their current preparation for supply chain, societal and capital market disruption even further (Figure 10; Figure 14).

CEOs of the world’s largest companies are far more likely to expect further geopolitical and ESG disruption in 2023.

Question: In which of the following areas is your business preparing for further disruption in 2023?

Figure 10: Preparing for disruption in 2023

More than 80% of CEOs and 90% of investors believe that internal bottlenecks significantly affect a company’s ability to react or even capitalize on opportunities amid disruptive events. Almost half of investors believe that these internal obstacles represent a substantial threat to an effective response.

Question: When your company / leading companies respond to black swan events, do you believe there are internal bottlenecks that affect your / their ability to react?

Figure 11: Impact of internal bottlenecks in responding to black swan events

What are these internal pressure points? Investors flag a far wider variety of internal bottlenecks, with almost 70% citing access to information as a significant roadblock (Figure 12). Both CEOs and investors agree (more than 50% of each data set) that external stakeholder pressure is a material consideration, raising the question of how much influence external stakeholders exert in how priorities are set internally.

An area of disconnect between CEOs and investors is around resistance from boards, with only 30% of CEOs citing this as a significant issue, while 46% of investors flagged this as a roadblock. CEOs clearly must do more to reassure the market that they are aligned with their boards during critical decision-making moments.

CEOs cite external stakeholder pressure and access to actionable information as the top two challenges when leading through disruption.

Question: Where do you believe the bottlenecks exist within your organization / in leading corporations to manage through the increasing number of black swan events occurring?

Figure 12: Internal bottlenecks
CEO and Investor Outlook Survey Report
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