Executive Summary

Leaders are surprisingly optimistic.

While acknowledging the current geopolitical and economic turbulence, survey respondents saw improvement on the way. 72% of respondents rated their companies’ growth prospects as “excellent” or “good” over the next one to three years, with 91% saying the same about the long term (three-to-five years).

Revenue defines short-term, but not long-term growth.

Respondents mainly viewed short-term growth in terms of revenue, with 42% saying that’s the key measurement. But in the longer term, they are looking as much to profit (30%) and market share (26%) as to revenue (26%).

New products and customers lead the way to growth.

Respondents prioritized adding new products or services, expanding the customer base, and improving operational efficiencies as their top three growth strategies. This is notable because organizations are prioritizing investing in growth rather than relying only on cost cutting to do the job—nor are they depending on passing on price increases to consumers; respondents ranked that strategy seventh.

Talent, recession, and inflation: The biggest blockers.

We asked our members to rank the topics that were preventing them from getting to growth. Some two-thirds of them named the talent shortage, the looming recession, and inflation as the top barriers—far ahead of supply chain delays, geopolitics, and material shortages.

Tech and talent: The biggest drivers.

Advances in technology, our members believe, will be the most significant accelerator of growth, with 59% ranking that first. In second place, with 54% citing it as a top driver, was an easing of the talent shortage. The fact that the shortage is also seen as a top obstacle to growth shows there is no consensus on whether the pressure has lessened.

The customer still comes first.

Both in the short and the long term, the customer is the primary stakeholder when making decisions related to growth. This is a shift from previous research that indicated that employees had taken over as the key stakeholder, suggesting a reversion to typical business perspectives. In the long term, respondents placed more emphasis on boards and investors and less on employees.

ESG recedes as a factor.

Both the growth opportunities of ESG and the complications that new regulations create have been hot topics of discussion among our members. But only 6% said regulations were a top obstacle, and only 30% looked to demand for sustainable products as a growth driver.