Strategic Issues

Progress without too many risks - that is on every CEO’s wish list. Could that be possible in the fast, disruptive reality of today? And more importantly, how do you protect your good reputation at the same time? Those questions are heard in most Dutch boardrooms in 2016. That is what is keeping CEOs up at night.

Risk management has made a remarkable shift up the agenda this year. The fact that 59% of respondents indicates that risk management is high on the agenda says something about the risk awareness within companies. The financial crisis has made companies more careful. No more ‘rash moves’ are allowed to happen. Controlled progress without too many risks - that is on every CEO’s wish list. The million dollar question is if this is actually feasible in the quickly changing disruptive reality. As in previous years, margin pressure still plays a large role. Due to the crisis, the prices have further decreased in the past years, and many organisations are having a hard time raising them again.

The fastest climber and new on top of the agenda is the strategic issue of organisational flexibilisation. This issue is frequently to constantly discussed during the board meetings of 57% of the respondents. Flexibilisation is closely related with another key social theme: the increasing rate of self-employed in the working population. Remarkably, the business model item has a lower position on the agenda this year. From 2009, this strategic issue was always in the top half of the CEOs’ agendas - in second place last year. It seems that after years of investing in the business model, the companies have ‘cleaned up their act’. This is apparent from the fact that 42% of respondents indicate that financing is derived from their internal cash flow in 2016. After years of tinkering with the organisation, the CEOs seem ‘tired of change’. Now that the internal organisation is in order, they start looking beyond their own walls again.

Berenschot Strategy Trends Strategic Issues and Trends on the CEO's Agenda

The most frequently discussed topics in boardrooms of Dutch companies in 2016 are strategic issues such as and corporate reputation & image, disruption and digitalisation, risk management, margin pressure and flexibilisation. Corporate reputation and image have been top 5 issues in our surveys for many years, and have topped the agenda in the past two years. Protecting their corporate reputation remains a priority for three quarters of the organisations, in particular B2B service providers and the financial sector. Innovation and disruption are also hot topics with a high place on the agenda in many sectors. In the industrial sector, no less than 80% of respondents indicates they frequently to constantly discuss the issue of innovation and disruption. Larger companies (> 250 employees) also indicate that this is the key trend. In the same line as innovation and disruption, digitalisation  is also a continuous item on the agendas of CEOs. Organisations are aware of the impact of digitalisation  on their business models and rely on innovations to prevent lagging behind. 

Top 5 Strategic Issues: Corporate Reputation, Disruption and Digitalisation, Risk Management, Margin Pressure, Flexibilisation

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Strategy Trends: 

Justin van der Starre

Gerben van den Berg

Douwe Suesan

Ruben Stukart