Face headwinds with a business resilience strategy

Leading in a downturn to build value

The next economic downturn will take place in a very different landscape than executives may have experienced in the past. Deloitte research has identified characteristics that grow enterprise value—even through periods of broad economic challenge.

"Prediction is very difficult—especially about the future”

Signs of economic downturn dominate the news: GDP has declined over two consecutive quarters. A once-in-a-generation disruption to geopolitics and the global systems that build and deliver physical products has pushed inflation to 40-year highs. Interest rates are rising, and stock markets are falling.

Some companies are playing defense with hiring freezes and calling out the potential impacts to revenue and profit. Many leaders report they expect a slowdown over the next 12 months. Yet unemployment remains historically low, consumer spending remains strong, and corporate cash reserves are healthy. Inconsistent signals and evolving market conditions create significant uncertainty, and today's conditions make comparisons to previous downturns an incomplete guide.

So, while there is much discussion on the possible depth and duration of a coming downturn, or when it might begin, rather than guess about what might happen, the more important task is to focus on leading in a downturn and developing a business resilience strategy regardless of the challenges ahead.

Face headwinds with a business resilience strategy

Pandemic. War. Supply chain breakdowns.
A confluence of macro-level conditions have altered the state of the world, and changed how companies operate.

The world is different, and so are you

The last few years have led companies to invest in new capabilities, innovate how they work, and incorporate new sources of value. The result: a foundation for resilience that can serve companies well if the economy slows. Yet, volatility and recent shocks have challenged enterprise operations. Legacy processes were fundamentally tested, and some companies face ongoing need to recalibrate their approach to changing circumstances.

  • Recent headlines don’t tell the full story of what's ahead. Elements of an economic downturn will likely be different than what we’ve seen in the past, as the business environment has changed post-COVID and many enterprises have evolved.
  • Companies can do more than brace for economic headwinds. The characteristics of companies that outperform their peers point to strategic and operational choices that help companies succeed—even amidst challenging times.
  • Leaders can prepare for a downturn and pave a path toward future success. While businesses will act to cut costs, manage cash flows, and invest in essential strategic initiatives, proactive moves can be made to focus on long-term value and market leadership.

What doesn't change: Two key dimensions of market leadership

Research shows that economic disruption can reorder the competitive business landscape, as actions taken in a downturn can amplify strategic successes and errors. Given this finding, we sought to answer the question: how do successful enterprises build value and ease volatility through challenging times? Deloitte research has identified a set of characteristics shared by companies that find enduring value through periods of disruption. We examined the performance of 500 large-cap public companies since 2016 and found that long-term success is linked to the degree to which enterprises exhibit strength along two dimensions: the ability to win and the capacity for change.

Putting it in practice: Enhance the “ability to win” and “capacity for change”

Enterprise leaders should consider applying the findings of our research to the current moment even as the specific contours of what the economy has in store remain uncertain. Shifting from defense to offense, we see important opportunities.

Each new release of economic data revises forecasts and generates new headlines, yet the outlook remains unclear. We expect change to continue and cannot predict when broad economic recovery might begin. To navigate confidently through the coming business cycle, we believe leaders should incorporate these recommendations into their specific operating environment and enterprise strategy.


Contact us to find the tailwinds that could help propel your organization’s performance beyond the current economic cycle.

Andrew Blau
US Leader, Eminence and Insights, Deloitte Consulting LLP
+ 1 415 932 5416

Folake Fadayomi
Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP
+1 571 882 8108

Emmy Komada
Manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP
+1 212 436 4688

Allison Choi
Consultant, Deloitte Consulting LLP
+1 212 492 4613

Jessie Liu
Analyst, Deloitte Consulting LLP
+1 212 436 7763


Special thanks to:

Tyler Cloherty
Managing Director, Head of the Knowledge Center, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Bill Jarmuz
Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Tarun Desai
Manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP

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