Executive Speaker Series

Developing strategy during times of unclarity

In its third session, the Executive Speaker Series program continues to promote innovation by hosting experts from around the world.

Developing strategy during times of unclarity

The third session of the Executive Speaker Series was launched in Dhahran on Dec. 21 under the title “Strategy through Uncertainty.” 


The series provides a unique platform for knowledge sharing, as its speakers’ list includes world-class thought leaders and experts from a number of global business partners such as the Harvard Business School, the London Business School, and Wharton. 


Unique capabilities

Ashraf A. Ghazzawi, executive director of Aramco’s Strategy and Market Analysis, provided an overview of the company’s long-term strategy and the key focus areas that inform all decisions, including profitability, resilience, growth, and sustainability.


In Aramco, a deep understanding of the business environment is key for us to generate options and opportunities, which leads us to shape our strategy and perform our decision making.
— Ashraf A. Ghazzawi


 “While developing the strategy, we have to appreciate the unique capabilities of the company,” Ghazzawi said.


Predictable unpredictability

Joining virtually from Singapore, Scott Anthony, a senior partner at Innosight, an American consulting firm, spoke about developing growth strategies, navigating disruptive innovation, and managing strategic transformation. 

Anthony is a prolific contributor to Harvard Business Publishing, is the most published digital author on HBR.org and is Harvard Business Corporate Learning’s most in-demand subject matter expert. He has been based in Singapore since 2010, where he served as a member of the Committee on the Future Economy and a Board member of MediaCorp from 2013-2019. In 2019, Anthony was named one of the world’s 10 most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50, and in 2017 he won the T50 Innovation Award.


Anthony discussed the effects of digital transformation, sustainability demands and how global customer behaviors are shifting, and changes in the basis of competition or commoditization in today’s oil market. 


He said we are living in an “era of predictable unpredictability,” a world that requires a high-level of adaptability as rapid change becomes the norm. Therefore, the fundamental challenge we’re currently facing is making informed choices.


While developing any strategy, Anthony suggested adapting the mindset of always expecting unpredictability and making peace with it as a fact of life. “I know that I know nothing,” he said.


Lead through the fog

To overcome obstacles and lead through the fog, Anthony proposed a combination of methods, which he calls “adaptive capacity,” which includes two components:


  • To be clinically curious by seeing everything with the eyes of “joyous exploration,” and to also see nothing by embracing “negative capability.” This can be achieved by “experiencing tomorrow, today.” The end goal is to be able to embody those two states at the same time, to accept what is negative and to approach it with curiosity rather than frustration. 
  • The second perspective is to be skeptically optimistic through adapting a growth mindset while maintaining scientific rigor, which could be achieved by experiments, innovations, and learnings. Anthony emphasized the importance of acting quickly and making bold decisions to avoid big losses. 


The Executive Speaker Series consists of monthly sessions, sponsored by executive management, focused on trending corporate topics such as sustainability, innovation, digital transformation, and more.


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