At XPLANE, our clients range from the C-Suite to department managers, from the Fortune 500 to non-profits. Across all of our work there is always one common link that causes them to pick up the phone and call us: they’re stuck.

But after looking over all of the work we’ve done in 2017 with global leaders from a variety of businesses, we found another common link in the challenges our clients were trying to tackle head-on. Not only were they stuck, but these innovative industry leaders faced some of the same complex problems.

What are the big challenges that leaders of today are facing? And how are companies effectively overcoming the roadblocks? Here are five trends that we’ve found in our work over the last year:


Employee training is critical (but needs to be on their terms)

Learning programs are core to business strategy and vital to keeping an organization alive. When there’s a change in strategy or a new process to be implemented, one-and-done trainings fall flat: a one-time townhall or one-hour online training is not enough to get your employees to adopt new behaviors or change the way they’ve always approached their day-to-day work.


Breaking through information overwhelm

Every person touching any part of your organization is constantly flooded with new data and complex information, day-in and day-out. Confusion not only drives customers toward your competitors, but it leaves your employees and partners unmotivated and disconnected from your company. How do you succeed in a world overwhelmed with information?


Bringing to life the love for the customer

Leading companies like Apple paved the way on the customer experience (CX) front within the last few years by consistently listening to their customers’ problems and spewing out fast, new solutions. While keeping the customer at the center of the business strategy was the focus for a lot of leaders in 2016, the leaders of 2017 faced the challenge of now trying to figure out how to operationalize and embed these strategies into the day-to-day culture and work that every one of their employees are living. How do you really move the needle on company culture?


Navigating ambiguity with design thinking

Back in the 2000s, the workplace was often focused on analytics, data, and making things more efficient. In the last few years the world of business was completely flipped by the boom of small, agile, innovative companies and disruptors like Airbnb and Uber. Now, large business are still feeling the pressure to do things differently—instead of focusing their big strategies on metrics tracking toward a specific end goal, they need to shift their thinking to be able to create answers and solutions with the changes in business when there is no clear end in sight.


No (strategic) plan survives on first contact

“No plan survives first contact.” Though rooted in the military, this famous quote still rings true to the current world of business. Whether it’s your strategy for war or your strategy to grow your company, no strategic plan can fully prepare you for the long-term future ahead. As the pace of change continues to increase with the continuous creation of new technology, platforms, and innovations, the traditional long strategic planning cycles to stay ahead are quickly becoming obsolete.


Read more about the common leadership problems we uncovered and how our clients have solved them in our 2017-2018 Trends Report.

Trends report was designed by XPLANE creative genius, Nicole Bittner.