Reuters NEXT Virtual Event Promotes Sustainability in Business Development

Not just in product lifecycle management, but in organizational growth



Colin McMahon


As 2021 begins, Reuters has continued its string of virtual events geared toward the future. Reuters NEXT (January 11-14) focused on examining issues like digitization, globalism, sustainability, COVID-19 recovery, innovation, and business development on an international scale. It is rare to see an event with sessions catered toward emerging world markets, such as Africa and the Philippines. That said, while certain panels did break discussion out by region, others had more universal appeal. While Keypoint Intelligence is soon to release a comprehensive show review detailing a complete rundown of notable sessions during Reuters NEXT, we want to focus this blog around one idea in particular: business development in the 21st century.



Bringing Sustainability to Business Development and Management

One of the more interesting panels I had the opportunity to sit in on was called “How COVID-19 (and other Changes) Will Shape Work and Leadership”. As its title suggested, this session focused on more than just the events of 2020. Its panelists, including the founder of Regenerators Laura Storm, took a larger view, looking at not just recent challenges hitting the economy but looming obstacles such as climate change.


In response, she and others on the session directly advocated for bringing the principles of sustainability into business development. Leaders, they argued, should stop treating businesses like machines and start looking at them like living organisms. The best organisms are not just strong but flexible, able to adapt without shedding whole organs (departments) just to stay functional. Sophisticated organisms also think beyond the next meal (fiscal quarter), making decisions and choosing diets that will enable long-term success in a competitive environment. It is a complex metaphor, one that we see gaining traction as the challenges of the 21st century continue.


Another idea discussed during the panel was the issue of true change and how much harder (but much more necessary) it was than just superfluous change. One of the challenges many of the panelists, including Dominic Price (Work Futurist at Atlassian), brought up was diversity. Sure, he claimed, it was easy to make a vocal commitment to diversity—but truly implementing it took structural adjustments, training, and education so that all at the company understood and supported the issue. Making workplaces more diverse can’t be accomplished in a single night; the panelists agreed it must be a dedicated, concentrated effort.



Lastly, they all spoke of the need to move past…well…the past. Much has changed in 300 years, Price said, but the 9-5/40-hour work week has largely been ignored and never really questioned. The panelists pointed to the issue of remote work, which the vast majority of companies struggled with implementing before the pandemic, and how 2020 had showed much of their fears and worries to be moot. Productivity takes many forms, and innovative businesses should be ready to carefully examine every aspect of business, while not being afraid to experiment with the formula (even one that’s 300 years old, like the standard work week).


This panel, like many of the ones put together by Reuters in recent months, shares a common theme of innovation and development—with a focus on the future and not the past. 2020 showed many people just how quickly conditions can change. We must all be prepared to adapt to new ways of thinking and doing things, or risk being left behind in a century that will likely prove more challenging than the one before. While COVID-19 is hopefully set to soon be dealt with through vaccine, other issues like climate change, systemic bigotry, and the spread of misinformation are not so easily remedied. Reuters has made the case that companies should be concerned with all of these issues, and that the ones that will succeed will adapt and confront, rather than facing a changing world with rigidity of thought and organizational structure.


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