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6 April 2017

Survey reveals that CEO ambitions are frustrated by a failure to plan

Leading business transformation specialists, Oliver Wight, commissioned an extensive survey in December 2016 to assess the key issues causing dissatisfaction amongst CEOs. Conducted by research consultants, Censuswide, the survey uncovered that 90% of CEOs are unhappy with their organisations’ business performance, with 33% citing both a lack of unrealistic shareholder expectations and lack of innovation as their top grievances.

The survey also reveals that many of these issues are self-inflicted because businesses are not effective at forward planning. Almost three quarters of the 152 CEOs surveyed admitted that business planning wasn’t a priority, and 19% admitted they were only planning 12 months ahead. Indeed 26% of businesses have not fully integrated their business planning across the entire organisation.

“It’s clear that CEOs aren’t ambitious enough.” explains Oliver Wight Associate, Liam Harrington. “Most are only concerned with improving processes rather than transforming performance. For example, almost one in three business leaders want improved forecast accuracy compared to just 19% who want to increase margin. It beggars belief.”

The poll results show there is also a tendency for CEOs to prioritise short term gains over long term benefits. Indeed, the report highlights the preference to invest almost twice as much in technology (77%) as in people (41%), or processes (42%). This suggests that business leaders may be overspending to try to compensate for poor management talent and employee performance.

Harrington concludes, “People and process are fundamental to transforming the performance of any business, but only 16% of CEOs say that investment in people gives their business the most value. Without 100% commitment to effective business planning, CEOs are highly unlikely to get any relief from perpetual dissatisfaction.”