The range of possible futures confronting business is great. Companies that nurture flexibility, awareness, and resiliency are more likely to survive the crisis, and even to prosper.
DECEMBER 2008 • Lowell Bryan and Diana Farrell, Mckinsey
Strategy, Strategic Thinking Article, Leading through uncertainty
The future of capitalism is here, and it’s not what any of us expected. With breathtaking speed, in the autumn of 2008 the credit markets ceased functioning normally, governments around the world began nationalizing financial systems and considering bailouts of other troubled industries, and major independent US investment banks disappeared or became bank holding companies. Meanwhile, currency values, as well as oil and other commodity prices, lurched wildly, while housing prices in Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere continued to slide.
As consumers batten down the hatches and the global economy slows, senior executives confront a more profoundly uncertain business environment than most of them have ever faced. Uncertainty surrounds not only the downturn’s depth and duration—though these are decidedly big unknowns—but also the very future of a global economic order until recently characterized by free-flowing capital and trade and by ever-deepening economic ties. A few months ago, the only challenges to this global system seemed to be external ones like climate change, terrorism, and war. Now, every day brings news that makes all of us wonder if the system itself will survive.
The task of business leaders must be to overcome the paralysis that dooms any...