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New Research Shows Corporate Executives Ill-Prepared for Future

Washington – December 4, 2018: Only 4 in 10 (39%) Fortune 1000 executives feel that their company is very prepared to manage the risk and disruption posed by challenges on issues ranging from the rise of unexpected competitors to political uncertainty, according to new research from APCO Worldwide.

“We know that the world is changing. Yet most corporate leaders haven’t kept up with the pace of change,” said Brad Staples, CEO of APCO Worldwide. “You can’t slow that pace down, but smart corporate executives know that building agile organizations, ready to respond to and positively creating change, is the only way to succeed in today’s environment.”

APCO’s September 2018 study asked 520 executives from Fortune 1000 companies across the United States to rate their company’s preparedness on a variety of issues that directly impact their ability to operate in today’s business environment. The sectors surveyed included tech, manufacturing, energy, financial, healthcare, retail and consumer goods. The findings include:

  • 34 percent felt very prepared to handle the challenging global regulatory environment
  • 23 percent felt very prepared to respond to consumers’ growing expectations for companies to respond to social issues
  • 22 percent felt very prepared to handle a negative event about their company on social media
  • 18 percent felt very prepared to recruit and retain the best talent in their industry
  • 14 percent felt very prepared to respond to geopolitical threats and political uncertainty

When asked to describe the most pressing issue that is causing these levels of uncertainty and ill-preparedness, one Fortune 1000 executive responded, “the ability to innovate to stay competitive.” Other executives mentioned that, “being able to adapt to changing times and technologies,” “new and unknown competitors,” and “finding top caliber talent” all have caused severe challenges for their businesses.

“Navigating disruption in today’s rapidly evolving environment can seem daunting, especially when research shows that many executives feel ill-prepared to lead into the future,” said Maril MacDonald, Founder and CEO of Gagen MacDonald. “We’re looking forward to working with our partners to better equip executives in turning disruption into opportunity—ensuring greater business outcomes.”

While the majority of Fortune 1000 executives surveyed conveyed a strong lack of confidence in their readiness for the future, those who represented truly agile organizations were significantly more likely to have strong financial success. Executives who represent companies that scored high marks on APCO’s Agility Indicator were more likely to exceed revenue expectations, to increase their stock price and to better recover from a major crisis than their lower scoring counterparts.

APCO Worldwide, along with partners Gagen MacDonald, Oxford Analytica and the Boswell Group, recently launched an innovative offering to help corporate executives become better prepared to handle institutional change by building corporate agility.

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