Surviving and Thriving

Bringing long term trends into the strategic dialogue

By Tracey Keys, director of Strategy Dynamics Global and publisher of as well as the author of various books. 

Resources are under pressure; mass migration is rewriting the rules on freedom of movement; geopolitical threats and social tensions are increasing. Digitalisation, cross industry competition and shifting consumer behaviours are shaking up, if not completely upending, traditional business models and notions of industry and market segmentation. Financial markets are being disrupted by technology and new players. Automation and multiple generations are reshaping the workforce.

It’s not surprising that many businesses are hunkering down amid perceived threats around them, focusing on surviving if not thriving in the here and now. Tempting as it is to ignore long term trends, it takes time to build the capabilities and business models required for success in a future environment that may look very different from today. However, the biggest challenge to incorporating trends into the strategic dialogue is not in understanding the implications of the trends themselves. Rather, it is overcoming the barriers of short term thinking and translating trends into action.

Trends every organisation needs to watch

Crystal balls are in short supply. But leaders and their teams need a point of view on how the world is changing.

Right or wrong, this changing point of view is crucial in enabling proactive action to establish the foundation for future success. The first task is building a holistic understanding of what is changing. Most executives have some awareness of demographic, technological, economic and social trends. But often it is not complete, organised or applied, as short term changes such as shifts in consumer behaviour or competitive offerings take precedence.

The Global Trends framework offers one approach to developing a holistic view of change, identifying significant long term trends in three spheres, as well as the interactions between them that lead to four growing areas of competition:

  • Fight for control & access: the competition between organisations for control or access to key resources
  • Fight for rules of engagement: among organisations and communities as they interact, work and live
  • Fight for value creation & capture: how different organisations define “value,” which are creating real value and where value is captured
  • Fight for values & beliefs: what motivates the behaviours of individuals and organisations.

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