The Turnaround Challenge facing global business

Author: Leo Johnson

Leo picIt's fantastic to have launched my new book, Turnaround Challenge: Business and the City of the Future, at our newly refurbed PwC London office earlier this month.

The Turnaround Challenge examines two central challenges to business as usual: 

  • First, do emerging social, environmental and economic crises suggest, as Klaus Schwab of WEF commented, that we need a new form of "capitalism that fits the world around it"?
  • And second, if the genius of capitalism, as Schumpeter observed, evolves in waves of creative destruction, is there a new model and wave of growth that's about to break?

"The future", William Gibson commented, "is already here. It's just not yet evenly distributed."

The book draws on case studies from Nairobi to Barcelona to Austin, Texas, and presents three emerging cities of the future, their contours already legible. The first is Petropolis, the city or model of capitalism locked into fossil fuel driven mass production, with diminishing returns on real sector investment, a carbon burden, offshored jobs and credit-fuelled consumption.

The second is Cyburbia, the ‘smart city’ of the future, shimmering citadels of state capital, with the breakthroughs of Information and Communications Technology deployed vertically to serve the existing markets of mass.

The third is the Bottom up city, with technology not as answer but as amplifier of intent, harnessed to deliver solutions to the pressing global challenges that confront us, from water scarcity to food security to power.

Where are we headed? Against all the rhetoric of extinction, the book identifies colliding megatrends in both energy and manufacturing that signal the dawn of a new business logic, and a city of the future where we thrive.

It’s my first proper book, co-authored with Mick Blowfield, who also teaches at the Smith School, Oxford, and it’s presented its own challenges! We had the whole thing ready to go, with this gorgeous artwork for the cover that had the R's in 'Turnaround' set backwards, Soviet style. Very chic. I showed it to my Dad, in one of those proud ‘son to father’ moments. He looked at it, nodded strongly at me, and said "like in Toys R us...?" Stop the presses.

Anyway we got it out, and - beat this - for one brief shining moment we hit the #2 spot on the Amazon Bestseller lists. Yes #2. What category, you ask? Okay, I will admit, in the single least competitive category on Amazon, which is of course ‘Business Ethics’. To illustrate the depth of this category and the full range of its guidance for global business practitioners, #3 was a book called ‘Liar’, and #1 a book by Lance Armstrong.

Here’s where you can get a copy.   Check it out - I’d love your feedback.

Happy reading, Happy Christmas and New Year all.  



Leo Johnson is a Partner in PwC’s Sustainability & Climate Change team, and the Co-Founder of the sustainability advisory firm Sustainable Finance, now part of the PwC group.  He is the co-author of  Turnaround Challenge: Business and the City of the Future and the lead author of PwC’s Low Carbon Economy Index.  Read Leo's full biography.



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