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Managing success

Stefan Stern
Financial Times
20 January 2010

PA Consulting Group’s strategy and marketing specialist Mark Thomas has been quoted extensively in the Financial Times ‘Road to Recovery’ report. Mark’s comments are featured in the report’s foreward and in the article ‘Managing success’.  In ‘Managing success’ Financial Times correspondent Stefan Stern looks at both the economic outlook and the importance of strong leadership and staff engagement in these uncertain times.

In the article Mark says that it is impossible to rule out a "second dip" in the economy, Stefan writes: 'He [Mark] recently published a sobering book entitled The zombie economy: Leadership in times of uncertainty. Why "zombie"? Because, according to Mr Thomas, many businesses and institutions may look alive, but inside may be near death.'

Mark says: 'There has been a semi-permanent change in the business environment in the wake of the financial crisis. Recovery in a 'zombie world' is much more unpredictable. It will polarise much more sharply who the winners and loser will be.'

Stefan explains Mark's reasoning: 'The recession will have finished off some of the weaker players; at the same time, those companies that were already strong will have benefited even further. "People will look back in a few years' time and realise that this was the moment when they established a strong, winning position in the market" Mr Thomas says.

'The biggest challenge, however, faces leaders themselves. "The really difficult part is being able to distinguish between with is real, in terms of recovery, and what is illusory," Mr Thomas continues.

'Where are the pockets of growth that are worth going for? Many expected profit rebounds are unlikely to come - the consumer demand will simply not be there.'

'The current crisis has been an enormous catalyst for change in the economy, and companies have reacted quickly by cutting costs and taking hard decisions that had been put off in the past. That was necessary, according to Mr Thomas, but not sufficient.

'There will not be enough opportunities for everyone' he says. "It is like a game of musical chairs - this recession has removed some of the chairs. Those who sit and wait for the recovery to save them are making a big mistake."

You can read the article in full here

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