Can Minimalism Work in Business?

By: Bonnie Hagemann, CEO, Executive Development Associates, Inc.

Executive Development Associates has conducted Trends in Executive Development research every two to four years since 1983. The 2019 Trends Report, which is used by organizations to benchmark their own executive development practices, shows us that as the world shifting continues organizational leaders are working hard to shift with the times.  Perhaps they are working too hard, trying to do too many things with too many tools and processes and rules.

“There is a book called Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists, by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. In their story, they take a long look at what really matters, what is truly good or useful or beautiful and then they get rid of everything else. Have you ever been in a home, perhaps your own, where there are boxes and boxes of things that have been moved from one house to another just in case they are needed? Then when you stop and think about it, you realize they never are needed. Instead, they take up space and energy and get lugged around with no benefit at all.

The Trends are showing us that we do the same thing in our businesses. We have kept the old ways of doing things while trying to understand the new ways. The new ways require a compelling vision, new technology, and organizations with a soul. The space we have is too crowded, too harried, and too time-consuming. It’s time to take a look at everything, get rid of the things that are no longer needed, and keep everything that really makes a difference.”

The above is a quote from the 2019 Trends research and points to a call for pause and reflection. Leadership is needed now more than ever, as organizations need leaders to have the courage to stop producing results long enough to examine which results really matter.  This and so much more is available in our latest, hot-off-the-press research!

This year, the study is based on the direct input of those who oversee leadership development in 270 organizations.  Their input combined with the insights and analysis of EDA’s advisory board, executive development experts and organizational senior leaders identify current and future trends impacting the executive development industry, some of which have made the list in years past, while others have come to the forefront in this year’s research. The top 5 current factors influencing executive development, as identified by the organizations surveyed, include:

  1. Changing Business Strategies
  2. Digital Transformation
  3. Economic Conditions
  4. Changing Customer Requirements
  5. The Need for Increased Innovation

The 2019 Trends Report provides a comprehensive examination of each of these trends, their implications, and ways to address them moving forward.  Complete study results include:

  1. Key Competencies Needed
  2. Highly Influential Conditions
  3. Top Priorities Moving Forward
  4. Hot Topics in Executive Development
  5. Layers of Leaders
  6. The Leadership Pipeline
  7. Policy and Strategy
  8. Planning and Needs Analysis
  9. System Design and Measurements
  10. Innovation and Best Practices
  11. Levels of Participation
  12. Expenditures

The 40-page 2019 Trends Report is available for purchase on Amazon and through the EDA website.

We also offer onsite executive development strategy sessions for organizations to learn about the trends and to analyze what is needed in their own organization.  These sessions are facilitated by Senior Executive Development Associates Consultants. For more information, please contact Amy Sullivan at

About the Author:

Bonnie Hagemann is the CEO of Executive Development Associates. She has over 16 years of experience successfully leading consulting firms through times of rapid growth and acquisitions as well as economic downturn and downsizing, in addition to 26+ years of experience coaching, educating and developing leaders.

Hagemann is a highly sought Executive Coach for CEOs and C-Suite Leaders, as well as a trusted advisor to members of the board. To date, Hagemann has provided coaching for over 240 leaders, including 14 CEOs. Most of her coaching clients receive a promotion, a better position and/or an increase in salary during or upon completion of the coaching process.

Bonnie has over 30 published works including a book on the shifting workforce demographics and their impact on leadership entitled Decades of Differences. Her newest book, Leading with Vision: The Leader’s Blueprint for Creating a Compelling Vision and Engaging the Workforce, was published in May 2017.

She leads research initiatives and publishes results in the areas of Trends in Executive Development, Executive Coaching and High Potential Development.