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Succeeding in the new economic environment – three targets for leaders

Saul Berman (Based in Los Angeles, Partner and Global Executive of IBM Global Business Services and leads the IBM Global Strategy and Change practice (
Steven Davidson (Based in Hong Kong, leads the IBM Strategy and Change consulting practice for Growth Markets, including Asia Pacific and Greater China in particular (
Sara Longworth (Based in London, Leads the IBM Strategy and Change consulting practice in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (
Amy Blitz (Based in London, Strategy and Change Leader for the IBM Institute for Business Value (

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 3 July 2009




Companies are now struggling to cope with the most severe recession in more than half a century. This paper aims to study how leading companies have successfully reacted to the crisis.


The researchers identified early winners in the current recession, beginning with large US‐listed companies whose stock appreciated by at least 5 percent in 2008, at a time when the S&P declined by 37 percent. They looked at best practices of 61 companies.


Winners have learned to ask, “Which strategies will allow the company to both survive in this economic transformation and, potentially, to thrive in it?”

Practical implications

Overall, the early winners the following: focus on value via sustainable strategies that emphasize long‐term value; exploit opportunities presented during downturns, including growing through low‐cost acquisitions and stock buy‐backs; and act quickly, with the agility to respond ahead of, or at least to keep pace with, rapid changes in the new economic environment.


As winning firms have learned, there are the three targets for leaders in the new economic environment. The article offers a how‐to guide to achieving them: leadership target no. 1: focus on value; leadership target no. 2: exploit opportunities; and leadership target no. 3: make speed a competitive advantage.



Berman, S., Davidson, S., Longworth, S. and Blitz, A. (2009), "Succeeding in the new economic environment – three targets for leaders", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 37 No. 4, pp. 13-22.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Authors

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