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The post-pandemic overconfidence trap

Business leaders need to debunk five myths to prepare for an uncertain future.

The pandemic era began as a frantic period for businesses. But that fervor seems to have given way to complacency and overconfidence for many business leaders.

IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) data shows that most organizations have settled back into comfortable operating patterns. Whether expressed or subliminal, we find that business leaders are taking pride in the resilience and achievement of their systems and teams during the trials of COVID-19. The challenges of a global health crisis revealed strength that hadn’t been appreciated. Looking ahead, we have heard top executives say their organizations are more agile, more tech-supported, and more prepared for whatever might come next.

While there may be truth in this prevailing perspective, overconfidence can also be unhelpful and misleading. Achievements of the past do not guarantee success in the future. And relying on them can be a trap.

Business leaders say the COVID-19 pandemic made their organizations more agile, more tech-supported, and more prepared for what might come next—but are they really?

Have organizations learned the right lessons from COVID-19? The post-pandemic environment promises to be more complicated and more disruptive, as evidenced by the radical shifts the world has experienced in 2022. Change is accelerating on many fronts. In this hyper-dynamic environment, true competitive advantage may be grasped by those business leaders who are not leaning back but moving ever more boldly forward. The truism that “there is no new normal” has itself been normalized. So a different, dramatic reset is required, in mindset and in practice.

However, as new research from the IBV reveals, CEOs and their executive teams are now resisting the kinds of transformation efforts that secured and propelled them during the pandemic. Instead, they’re looking to optimize what they already have and turning their attention to growth.

Spend on transformation has stalled in the wake of the pandemic

Spend on transformation has stalled in the wake of the pandemic

Right now, the prospect of a continuously transforming organization may seem scary and daunting. But leaders need to accept this reality if they want to succeed in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Download the report to explore five myths that define this moment for business and learn how business leaders can prepare for what’s next.

Myth #1: Businesses and business leaders are prepared for the future

Myth #2: Business leaders know how to manage change

Myth #3: Business leaders have embraced remote work and figured out how to manage a remote workforce

Myth #4: Business leaders understand risk

Myth #5: Businesses can’t handle perpetual transformation


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Meet the authors

Anthony Marshall, Senior Research Director, IBM Institute for Business Value

Cindy Anderson

Connect with author:


, Global Executive for Engagement and Eminence, IBM Institute for Business Value


Christian Bieck, Europe Leader & Global Research Leader, Insurance, IBM Institute for Business Value

Originally published 08 August 2022