Adapting to a New Normal

Adapting to a New Normal

2500 years ago, a Greek philosopher wrote that the only constant in life is change. Lately, changes seem to be gathering speed.
Maya Fischhoff June 9, 2017
Fake news is now an industry disrupting the way citizens consume information. Climate change, often framed as a burden future generations, is finally being recognized as a present threat. 
Companies mastering analytics and big data are taking on artificial intelligence. Self-driving vehicles hold the promise of cleaner cities – or at least clearer minds for many on the daily commute.

How can businesses prepare for a changing, uncertain, and complex environment? NBS is identifying how business can adapt ­– and even thrive ­– amidst disruption.

Preparing for the Future

NBS research can help you plan, shift your organization, and think about issues in new ways. Our resources cover:

Strategic Planning

We identify four ways of preparing for the future, from forecasting to transformative scenario planning. The right choice depends on your organization’s ability to shape the future, and on how much uncertainty you face. 

Long-Term Thinking

We describe how — and why — to get your organization looking beyond the next quarterly report and tackling longer-term challenges.

Focus on the System

Many of these issues can’t be solved or managed by one company alone. That’s because they’re affected by different stakeholders, government policy, and much more. We call such broad issues “systems” problems. 
Writing for NBS, researcher John Sterman provides a helpful overview of how to work on such complex problems. Core to success is collaboration with partners involved in different parts of the system. To successfully adapt to climate change, for example, you might want to work with government officials to shape policy that provides adaptation incentives, and with activists pressuring your company for a specific response. NBS provides guidance on how to collaborate with different partners: government, NGOs, and even competitors.
Thought Leaders
Making Systems Thinking More Than a Slogan
John Sterman

Climate Change – Ground Zero for Change

Climate change is a disruption that’s already here. Canada and other countries are seeing increased storms, flooding, drought, and forest fires [1].
These weather changes have real business impacts. They can translate into office closures and absent employees, increased or unpredictable energy costs, disrupted construction or logistics and unavailable resources or raw materials.

Through a multi-year project, NBS has identified identify how organizations can respond to climate change in a way that makes business sense.

There are some steps every organization can take, from understanding vulnerabilities to seeking data for decisions. 

Leaders in different sectors are already responding. NBS case studies showcase those leading efforts for companies in the travel, transportation, utilities, insurance, and retail sectors. 
[1] Warren, F.J., & Lemmen, D.S. (Eds.). 2014. Canada in a changing climate: Sector perspectives on impacts and adaptation.Ottawa: Government of Canada. Retrieved from

Related Resources

Executive Report

Climate change is a business issue. Here are four reasons why adapting to a changing climate should be on every executive's radar.

Reports and Articles

Learn four steps your business can take to prepare for an era of extreme climate and weather events. 

Jonatan Pinkse
Frederica Gasbarro

Technological, social, and political disruptions are all around us. Thriving in this context requires agility, innovation, and collaboration.

Tima Bansal
Julian Birkinshaw
Reports and Articles

New forces are shifting the sustainability landscape. NBS director Tima Bansal describes our changed reality — and how we can navigate it together.

Tima Bansal