March 5, 2018

Dance to the tune of disruption

Given all the technological advances in our fast-changing world, we are all at risk of becoming disrupted. Regardless of the amount of success you have had or the size of your business, you are still at risk; that is, if you stick with the same old ways of doing things.

Disruption is like an unpredictable rhythm with unexpected beats. If you do not constantly change and move with it, you may fall out of rhythm. And when you fall out of rhythm, disruption may just catch up with and overtake you.

So, as business leaders, how do you and your organisation “dance to the tune of disruption”?

First, you must be agile. As we’ve said, disruption is unpredictable, so your organisation needs planning skills that place a special emphasis on agility.

One thing to remember is that mistakes are inevitable. But as you and your organisation become agile, learning from those mistakes and failures will make your organisation stronger and better positioned to resist disruption.

Second, you must be able to break out of old habits and try new things. Sometimes, your organisation might have to step out of the usual way of doing things. That doesn’t mean we have to completely stop what we are doing and jump into doing completely new things. While they determine what is the best direction and what new ideas to try out, organisations must work in a synchronised manner, like a dance.

Additionally, when your people get out of old habits and try new things, they might figure out their strengths in other areas. However, understanding the limits of your people is important, because you don’t want them to become discouraged when they are not able to do as well as they hoped they would.

Third, as a leader, you must be able to lead and guide your people through the necessary changes of disruptive rhythms. It is important to make your people feel safe while changes are swirling around them.

In today’s competitive environment, it is important to eliminate the fear or uncertainty your people may be feeling. Change is not always easy and disruption can affect even the best of us. Our people need to feel safe and empowered to work at their potential.

Moreover, giving your people a sense of purpose can diminish some fear they may be feeling as they observe change around them. People want their work and their organisations to make a difference; therefore, it’s important to empower them to work their way through change and move towards greater things.

Fourth, you must be able to keep creativity going in order to promote innovation. I have mentioned over and over that no one is an exception when it comes to disruption. In order to keep up and rise above it, we must constantly innovate.

We used to believe that innovation doesn’t happen overnight, but I’d say otherwise. With the right support, supporting processes and environment, your organisation can constantly create many innovative ideas. No matter how small or large those ideas may be, collectively they can amount to a powerful defence against possible future disruption.

Supporting creative thinking to solve problems through innovation has a lot of advantages to your organisation. Innovation can help your organisation rise above competitors, increase productivity, while solving problems internally and even for your intended market.

Fifth and possibly the most important element to keep up with the tune of disruption is to have the right mindset. There are many types of mindset models but the most important thing to remember is that the right mindset is one in which we think about others as much our own selves.

Additionally, when you’re in a more positive mindset, it translates to behaviour in a positive way. A mindset may not only be the key to success, but it can also help you and your organisation stay in the rhythm of disruption.

In sum, disruption can happen anywhere, at any time. From the sudden change of tune to a quick switch of rhythm, disruption definitely has no specific pattern. In order for leaders to keep their organisations in rhythm, they must move with change and want to make a change.

As Guy Kawasaki, an American marketing specialist, author and Silicon Valley venture capitalist, once said: “Great companies start because the founders want to change the world … not make a fast buck.”

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s leading executive, leadership and innovation capability development centre. She can be reached by email at arinya_t@seasiacenter.com or www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa

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