2023: The year in images

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The past year has been one marked by both great progress and continued uncertainty. On the one hand, accelerating digital innovation, buoyed by the explosive growth of generative AI (gen AI), has ushered in technology’s next chapter. On the other, geopolitical conflict and other disruptions have forced shifts in leaders’ agendas.

As we cap off another year, we’ve asked McKinsey Global Publishing designers for perspective on the images that helped bring our insights to life in 2023. Their selections reveal both the developments and the challenges that defined the year: an outstretched, AI-generated hand; a cityscape of empty office buildings; a race toward the future; a multilayered ticking clock; a globe framed by a united team, forging a path to spark the change they aspire to create. These images—rich, powerful, provoking—paint a picture of our changing world and serve to sharpen our focus on the quest for sustainable and inclusive growth.

This year brought moments of reflection and created a framework for new opportunities to shape the year ahead. Join us as we explore McKinsey Global Publishing’s visual take on 2023.

Women in the Workplace 2023

The latest Women in the Workplace report, completed in partnership with LeanIn.Org, paints a promising yet problematic picture. Overall, women have greater representation in the C-suite but continue to leave the workforce at high rates. While the report is encouraging for most women, women of color remain vastly underrepresented in leadership positions—and virtually invisible in the C-suite. The challenges are palpable, as this woman’s pensive expression suggests.

Empty spaces and hybrid places: The pandemic’s lasting impact on real estate

The real estate industry remains affected by the lingering and palpable effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hybrid work is here to stay, leaving offices underoccupied and forcing companies to adapt. A reimagining of real estate may mean downsizing and reconfiguring spaces. A lush green landscape awaits business owners—if they plant the right seeds now and optimize their resources.

Generative AI and the future of work in America

The recent exodus of 100 million workers, coupled with the dawn of new technologies like gen AI, signals new ways of working on the horizon. Gen AI and automation have the potential to enhance, not replace, the labor market. Over time, businesses could reap the benefits of a fruitful, innovative partnership, where technology lends a supportive hand to myriad employees in their daily work.

McKinsey Quarterly 2023 Number 3: Dive in

The “Dive in” section of the McKinsey Quarterly magazine invites readers to delve more deeply into the latest events shaping our future. Readers have an oasis of insights to synthesize, much like this lone explorer charting a voyage in a whale-shaped vessel, using his laptop to navigate a sea of information.

Global Banking Annual Review 2023: The Great Banking Transition

This year’s look at global banking reveals a significant upturn—the best in over a decade—due to strong yields and digital innovation. While there are clear signs of progress, the road ahead may not be entirely smooth, as illustrated by the balls in this constantly moving maze, swirling and changing course in hopes of reaching their desired destination.

McKinsey Quarterly 2023 Number 4

Sending it forward: Successfully transitioning out of the CEO role

The final installment in McKinsey Quarterly’s series on the arc of a CEO’s tenure underscores the importance of succession planning. Knowing when to move on, ensuring a seamless handoff, and embracing what’s next are key components to an effective transition. Like trained Olympians, CEOs must gracefully pass the torch so that their successors can hit the ground running with the wind at their backs.

Asia on the cusp of a new era

Asia has become a major global economic power in recent years and is poised to play a leading role in capital and energy resources. Yet restrictions on technology and trade, coupled with the challenge of reducing carbon emissions, may hamper that growth. As this McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report suggests, with new strategic direction and continued transformation, Asia can unlock more opportunities for growth, just like these verdant blooming flowers.

McKinsey Quarterly 2023 Number 4: The expansive, explosive potential of gen AI

Since the launch of ChatGPT last year, generative AI has quickly captured the world’s attention. Its potential business value could yield trillions of dollars across sectors, including banking, pharmaceuticals, and retail. While the rewards are plentiful, so are the risks. Without cautious adoption of the new technology, the results could be unmeasured and unpredictable, much like this disproportionate face with outsize features.

From poverty to empowerment: Raising the bar for sustainable and inclusive growth

This MGI report explores how empowerment and elevation could help solve two of the world’s most intractable problems: poverty and climate change. Meeting basic needs of underserved populations will require a massive effort. As the united group surrounding this globe suggests, collaboration will be essential. Only in partnership can we work to safeguard two of our most valuable resources—our people and our planet.

McKinsey Quarterly 2023 Number 2

The power of goodbye: How carve-outs can unleash value

While leaders typically view M&A integration as an opportunity to realize synergies and unlock value, business carve-outs, conversely, are often seen as a potential drag on a company. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As carve-outs adopt their own distinct business models, they can unlock tremendous value, as represented by this image’s colorful spheres soaring to new heights.

The economic potential of generative AI: The next productivity frontier

Gen AI is poised to redefine productivity—for example, making it easier to personalize sales, marketing, and customer interactions across a range of industries. With active monitoring against risk, gen AI has the potential to bring significant value to the global economy. Ultimately, its increased adoption could change the face of customer service, as this animation shows.

McKinsey Quarterly 2023 Number 4: Outlook: The future of real estate in charts

The effects of hybrid work on real estate aren’t limited to office space. With less foot traffic from workers, retail spaces are seeing less demand as well. Developers and businesses can adapt by taking a similarly hybrid approach, reconsidering how they maintain large spaces and developing more adaptable buildings to lay the foundation for a more promising future.

Carbon removals: How to scale a new gigaton industry

Carbon emissions continue to have a critical impact on the world’s natural resources, including forests, farms, energy systems, and wildlife. The global community must collaborate to make progress, yet time is of the essence. As this illustration suggests, in the global race to net-zero emissions, the clock is ticking in each of these areas, and now is the time for swift, deliberate action.

What is burnout?

Launched as part of the McKinsey Explainers series, this primer on burnout describes feelings that many workers know all too well: increased fatigue and feeling overwhelmed, decreased independence, and loss of control over work and home life. While events of the past few years have given rise to these feelings, they have also shed light on the need to address them, igniting sparks of hope for workers—rather than extinguishing bright talent.

Generative AI: Unlocking the future of fashion

The adoption of gen AI has unearthed new areas of potential for many businesses, including fashion. Gen AI can aid marketing and sales by mapping people’s measurements to AI-generated figures to create custom gear. The end result could mean turning customers’ fashion dreams into reality—and taking stylish steps into a brave new world, as this fashion-forward model suggests.

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