Clyde & Co is pleased to present Section 2 of the Looking Glass Report 2020, in collaboration with professional member network Winmark. The annual Looking Glass Report investigates trends and developments that impact senior legal leaders, both in-house and in private practice. Section 2 considers Growth, following Section 1 on the Risk Landscape, and later sections looking at Technology and Innovation, and the Role of the GC in turn.

Our research has traced how GC and Board perceptions of growth drivers, opportunities and success factors have been changing as the COVID-19 crisis has evolved and addresses how this will impact their future growth strategies and actions. 

View the full report

COVID-19 re-shapes approach to growth 

The organisations consulted to give their perspective on growth drivers, opportunities and success factors for this year's Looking Glass have a truly global footprint, with half being headquartered outside the UK:
Asia-Pacific (16%), Europe (4%), North America (12%), Middle East (3%) with the remainder in South America and Africa.

With the COVID-19 outbreak unfolding rapidly, organisations have focussed on cash control, operational efficiency and staff wellbeing. In the short-term many organisations' growth plans have been interrupted and developing a strategy for future supply chain transparency and flexibility is becoming a priority.

Given the expected decline in globalisation, greater diversification in supply chains will be desirable and increased stockpiling of critical supplies is likely. Greater border restrictions and increased preference for local over global products and services are also possible consequences of the crisis.

Investment in our overseas market presence has been paused and there has been increased investment instead in our online capacity

Head of Legal, Technology

For many, COVID-19 will be an impetus for innovation as organisations get a better sense of what can be achieved, particularly in the digital sphere. Many are having to swiftly become adept at digital delivery and distribution and are beginning to appreciate the speed with which their organisations can move. As businesses are forced to do more with less, many are finding better, simpler, less expensive, and faster ways to operate.

As conditions return to normal, organisations will be seeking out global markets with resilient economies and the potential for growing demand. In Europe, there will be concern about how successfully the EU can establish a new working relationship with the UK against a backdrop of a global recession and recent political transitions in Germany, Italy, and Spain. The recent situation in Hong Kong and China's potentially confrontational relationship with the US and other regional powers also threatens stability.

Organisations that already have a presence in Asia have said this helped them to be somewhat ahead of the game and better equipped to deal with the current crisis because of the experiences and lessons learned.

The current economic and geopolitical uncertainties coupled with technological disruptions, climate change, and demographic shifts make it hard to predict what the global commercial landscape will look like in five years' time. This section of the report examines how organisations are facing this uncertainty and how legal departments are supporting long-term strategies for sustained growth particularly when navigating new and emerging markets.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.