Economic Strategy Task Force: Executive Overview


Economic Strategy Task Force logo

The Economic Strategy Task Force is a platform to develop and implement a business-led strategy for sustainable growth in the 21st Century.

Amid mounting risk from Asia's rise, urban unrest, and climate change—and with the 2016 election not likely to fix Washington—it is time for American business to find new ways to lead. Adapting frameworks originating in the Pentagon that call for accessing large pools of pent-up demand, an unparalleled opportunity is facing business. The question is how to seize it. In contrast to Beltway-centric advocacy, we propose to convene business leaders to design an economic strategy that can be executed by business independent of new legislation or rules; pulling Washington instead of pushing. We call this strategy, A Business Plan for America.


The Task Force will involve CEO-level participation from 100 companies in 10 major sectors and approximately 30 strategic partners to provide critical subject matter expertise. Guided by a Steering Committee, the ESTF will convene in two CEO-level summits supported by sector-specific, delegate-led working groups. Active CEO participation will be kept to two one-day sessions, one per summit. Each company is invited to bring up to three participants (CEO + 2 delegates).

Alternative Growth Scenario

Diagram of the ten sectors

The Alternative Growth Scenario is designed to provide Task Force participants with a breakthrough framework for developing A Business Plan for America along with new growth strategies in 10 sectors. Identifying the primary drivers of systemic risk, the scenario incorporates the critical factors destabilizing business-as-usual. Identifying four game-changing pools of demand (walkable communities, regenerative agriculture, resource productivity, and long-term investments), the scenario reveals the foundation of the next economic era. Finally, the scenario identifies 10 emerging sector-specific business models, which together can minimize systemic risk while tapping into the demand play of the coming decades. Financed by a private vehicle for capital aggregation and deployment, the Alternative Growth Scenario offers businesses a profitable route to reducing uncertainty and increasing long-term investment, without waiting on Washington to change current policy.

A Historic Pair of Summits

To drive towards this aggressive goal, our Task Force will meet in two summits, utilizing Appreciative Inquiry, a methodology deployed successfully by Wal-Mart, Visa, the U.S. Navy, the UN Global Compact and many others to facilitate complex change and growth in mature organizations. The full process is outlined below:

Design Committee: The Design Committee, a microcosm of the full Task Force, will refine the Summit design and identify and recruit Task Force participants. We are targeting the Design Committee meeting in early 2016.

Summit 1: The first summit will convene business leaders and subject matter experts to take the Alternative Growth Scenario to the next level, connecting sector and national insights to develop a robust set of prototypes that will be fully developed in subsequent working groups. These prototypes will address how the economy can successfully and rapidly make the transition to sustainable growth. We are targeting Summit 1 for summer of 2016.

Working Groups: After Summit 1, working groups will further refine the sector alternative scenarios to develop detailed sector business plans. These plans will then be rolled up into a draft Business Plan for America. To accommodate data acquisition, delegate meetings and multiple iterations, we estimate the working group period to span 5 – 6 months.

PwC Evaluation: After the working groups prepare an integrated, nearly complete Business Plan for America, the modeling team will deliver the recommendations to PriceWaterhouseCoopers to evaluate the impact on primary national indicators such as unemployment, GDP, income, federal deficits, and sector performance.

Summit 2: In approximately 1Q 2017, we will hold the second summit. Task Force delegates and staff will present participants with a fully-integrated Business Plan for America. Once final consensus has been achieved, the summit will turn to implementation and developing an engagement strategy. We anticipate that the Task Force will host a series of roll-out events to allow participants to speak directly with their C-Suite peers, with policymakers in Washington, with major party candidates, and with the media.

Ambition with Precedent

In 1910, three years after a major bank run and panic, a group of private business leaders met on Jekyll Island, Georgia and designed what would become the U.S. Federal Reserve System. In 1940, on the eve of war, the former president of Chevrolet, Bill Knudsen, convened America's business leaders to map out the economic strategy known as the Arsenal of Democracy. Today we are facing another of these rare moments. Under business-as-usual, the American economy is headed for major disruption from multiple angles. With extraordinary economic opportunities still present, it is time for business to work together to chart a new path.

It is time for the Economic Strategy Task Force.