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Executives and board members report that as a result of increasing pressure to produce short‐term results, strategic decisions are harder to make.

The pressure on business leaders to deliver financial results in the short term has increased considerably since the economic crisis, according to a survey jointly commissioned by McKinsey & Company and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB)1 on time horizons in executive decision making.2 More than three‐quarters (79 percent) of the respondents told us that the time frame in which they personally felt the most pressure to deliver financial results was two years or less. And while 73 percent said that their companies should look at least three years ahead in their strategic planning, only just over half said their management teams actually did so.

In this survey, we asked senior executives and board directors about the ways they balance short‐ and long‐term priorities, the time frames they use to decide on strategy and investments, and the potential benefits from taking a longer‐term approach to decisions.