SOURCE: The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group

October 04, 2011 00:01 ET

An "Era of Seismic Change" Presents Today's Business Executives With a Once-in-a-Generation Test of Leadership, Says the CEO of The Boston Consulting Group

Speaking in Advance of the Launch of -- BCG's New Online Platform for Fresh Thinking on Management Issues -- Hans-Paul Buerkner Urges CEOs to Look Beyond Today's Gloomy Economic News, Resist the Temptation to "Hunker Down," and Take "Intelligently Aggressive" Steps to Capitalize on the Megatrends Transforming Business

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - Oct 4, 2011) - An era of seismic changes -- with new middle-class consumers and fast-globalizing competitors from emerging markets as well as innovative business models arising from the development of the new technologies -- presents CEOs with a golden opportunity to galvanize their companies, according to Hans-Paul Bürkner, president and CEO of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

But, if leaders are to capitalize on these trends and guide their companies through the economic gloom to a better future, they will need to take some "bold bets" and "intelligently aggressive" action, he added.

Speaking on the eve of yesterday's launch of -- a new online platform designed to feature the latest thinking on current business issues from BCG experts, as well as CEOs, academics, and other leaders -- Bürkner said that senior managers face an extraordinary test of their personal leadership.

"The challenges confronting CEOs are large, and getting larger," he said. "There are many new middle-class consumers in the emerging markets who have continuously changing needs, there are new competitors from the emerging markets with different ways of doing business, and there are new business models created by disruptive technologies. Never before have corporate leaders faced such a convergence of major transformative events. This truly is an era of seismic change -- and it presents today's managers with a once-in-a-generation test of leadership."

"To pass this test, CEOs must take decisive action. They should not hunker down and try to preserve the status quo. Yes, there are risks -- but the opportunities are greater. So they should be making some bold bets: entering new markets, acquiring struggling competitors, investing in marketing and new products and services, making the most of digital technology, creating new business models, and building adaptive organizations."

Addressing developed markets specifically, Bürkner said that today's senior managers in the U.S. and Europe cannot afford to stand still -- otherwise, they risk leading their companies into terminal decline. "Companies from China, India, and other emerging markets are rightly charging ahead. So to compete, you need to make more changes more frequently than the previous generation of corporate leaders has. If you don't take these steps, your company could lose advantage, market position, and even its right to exist."

Bürkner's prescription for corporate success chimes with the recommendations of some senior business leaders featured in Leading Transformation, a major new BCG study on the challenge of orchestrating organizational change.

The study, published yesterday on, features exclusive video interviews with 11 CEOs who have re-energized their organizations, reset strategies, and made fundamental and difficult changes. These executives regarded the challenge of transformation as a mission rather than simply a job and found ways to:

  • Deliver ambitious goals in 1-3 years by building on a bedrock of bold moves
  • Fund the organization's transformation by freeing up cash and resources and/or unleashing the necessary political capital
  • Build the right team with a shared mindset and commitment -- since even the best-laid plans will fail if people are not on board

The following executives were interviewed for Leading Transformation:
David Brennan, executive director and CEO of AstraZeneca; Martin Daum, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America; Brian Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide; Chanda Kochhar, managing director and CEO of ICICI Bank; Ian McLeod, managing director of Coles; Hiroshi Mikitani; chairman and CEO of Rakuten; Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton Worldwide; Archie Norman, nonexecutive chairman of ITV; Irene Rosenfeld, chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods; Louis Vachon, president and CEO of National Bank Financial Group; and Jasmine Whitbread, international CEO of Save the Children.

For more information, please contact Eric Gregoire at or at + 1 617 850 3783.

About The Boston Consulting Group
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Launched yesterday, this new website -- available on PC, mobile phone, and iPad -- features the latest thinking from BCG experts as well as from CEOs, academics, and other leaders. It covers issues at the top of senior management's agenda. It also provides unprecedented access to BCG's extensive archive of thought leadership stretching back almost 50 years to the days of Bruce Henderson, the firm's founder and one of the architects of modern management consulting.