Geopolitics is nothing new, but to succeed in today's charged environment, companies are going to have to do things differently. It starts with recognizing that politics influences the business environment more than it has for decades. While it might be easy for CEOs to have a relatively informed view on this new geopolitical landscape, it's hard to be a specialist -- particularly when economic logic is seemingly no longer a constraint on politics and companies can take nothing for granted. Furthermore, while a 'wait and see' approach might be seen as the easiest route -- especially given the range of known-unknowns or unknown-unknowns defining the current social, political and economic environment, the signals can be predicted if you look in the right places, risks managed if you know how, and opportunities exploited if you can turn foresight into action.

This paper has explored three proactive responses to the current geopolitical environment which should help make CEOs view themselves and the companies they lead in a different light; as takers of political risk and opportunities, but also as shapers of societal outcomes. There are also a range of boardroom questions which should be high on the CEO agenda to kick-start the discussion and identify geopolitical implications for financial, business and operating models. While geopolitics has the potential to disrupt, for those that are prepared and ready to act, it can also create opportunities. Armed with a well thought through strategy, analysis and information, an effective CEO acting like a Chief Geopolitical Officer can help lead the company towards a more certain path in an uncertain business world.

Financial model

  • What business planning assumptions could be derailed by geopolitics?
  • Have your financial forecasts and business plans been stress-tested for geopolitical disruptions? 
  • What does increased geopolitical uncertainty mean for the availability and cost of capital and resources?

Business model

  • How resilient is your business to the loss of a key customer as a result of a geopolitical event?
  • How could your distribution network or product portfolio be impacted by major geopolitical changes?
  • Which new or alternative markets should be explored in light of possible political trajectories?

Operating model

  • Who in the business is responsible for monitoring, analyzing and interpreting geopolitical events?
  • Is your operating model sufficiently agile to respond to a surprise geopolitical event?
  • Is your geopolitical intelligence of comparable quality to financial and operational data?

Read the full report: The CEO as Chief Geopolitical Officer (PDF 785 KB)

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