More than 2000 CEOs of medium-sized to large companies in Sweden were invited to participate in Howwe Technologies’ CEO Poll, looking at how company leaders execute strategy. The survey provides unique insights into the challenges they experience, how often strategic goals are reached, what methods they use to run their organizations and the pandemic’s impact on corporate governance. In this article, you’ll find a summary of the results, together with an analysis by Howwe Technologies’ Chief Strategy Officer, Johan Grönstedt.  

Efficient and company-wide strategy implementation is crucial for successful business governance and organizational management. That hardly comes as a surprise to anyone. Nevertheless, Howwe Technologies’ CEO Poll shows that the participating CEOs experience this as a major challenge. In addition, about half of the respondents think that the pandemic has further complicated the managements’ governance and a lack of commitment and focus are the biggest problem areas they experience as a consequence of the pandemic.

A majority, 84%, of the participating companies have achieved their financial goals 1-4 times during the last five-year period. That may not sound alarming. What is, on the other hand, is that only 12% state that they do so every year. The reasons why they do not achieve their goals vary widely, but external and unforeseen factors, such as Covid-19, stand out. Actually, a majority, 63% of the companies, have had to change their strategic goals as a result of the pandemic. Additionally, half of the respondents feel that it is more difficult to manage the organization with large parts of the workforce working from home. 37% state that the organization generally lacks sufficient commitment and proactivity to succeed.

The results of the CEO Poll also show that more than half of the companies do not use a modern goal steering tool, but pursue the company’s most important business challenges and strategic goals with traditional programs such as Excel or PowerPoint.

 “The idea for the CEO Poll emerged based on a large number of requests from the participants in the CEO Forum. Our software Howwe, helps some of Sweden’s and the world’s largest companies to drive company-wide transformation and demonstrable acceleration of their growth.  Thus, we have both a large network of business leaders and a great deal of expertise in corporate governance challenges. We wanted to get hard figures on the reality CEOs face when executing strategy and the results we see in the Poll are astonishing. They show that there are major areas for improvement to become more competitive and we’re happy to support leaders in that journey, says Per Forslund, CEO of Howwe Technologies.

The respondents in the survey hold the position of CEO of companies in various industries in Sweden. The majority of the companies have between 250-1000 employees, with a relatively even representation of smaller and larger participating companies. The distribution between private and listed companies is even, at 30% each, with smaller proportions of owner-managed, venture capital-owned, and state- or municipally-owned companies.

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