Out-Disrupt Disruption

by Patrick Liew on November 17, 2019

Out-Disrupt Disruption

Traditional borders between nations, markets and industries are not only blurring, they are constantly being redefined.

Conventional framework for managing businesses will become increasingly irrelevant and will go the way of the dinosaurs.

Professor CK Prahalad who studied companies that remained in the Fortune 500 list in the past 50 years found these companies look forward, not backward.

And if one of the ways to look forward is to look backward, then a key lesson we should learn is that we must never take our position and our future for granted.

Although the future cannot be predicted with certainty and we need to expect the unexpected, that does not mean we cannot plan to stay ahead of the change curve.

Whether the future is an extrapolation of the past or a series of discontinuities, we can be certain it must begin from somewhere.

We can and should study the impact of new and emerging developments, interpret the trends, and think systematically about the future.

By doing so, we can become more resilient to the harsh winds of change.

Entrepreneurs in the new age will operate in a market that is at the same time local and global, competitive and collaborative, permanent and transient. It is within this paradox, we will have to find our profitable equilibrium.

F. Scott Fitzgerald phrased it eloquently when he commented, ‘The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposite ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function’. We will have to live with and manage these discordant forces and they may not necessarily be contradictory.

To manage the future, we must anticipate, embrace and learn to leverage the kaleidoscopic pace of change.

We must never see them as problems but as opportunities to learn, grow and advance.

The greatest obstacle to change is within ourselves and the test of a winner is how we can remove the impediments so that we can evolve with, adapt to, and influence the new realities.

As the shelf life of our business model and competitive differential is shortening, we must continually learn new ideas, business practices, and competencies.

We need to discipline ourselves to let go of the past.

We need to creatively destroy ourselves and reinvent our business model so as to discover what we should do and do it in a better, faster and cheaper way.

The focus is not to respond to every challenge but to build a resilient model that will rise above every situation. We need to establish an adaptable organisation and an able and agile team to capitalise on the winds of change.

We must build virtual, open and dynamic business systems that will closely monitor the environment and exploit the changes in the most productive way.

In this new landscape, even the way we manage our organisation has to be transformed. The traditional way of managing our business on the basis of command and control will become obsolete.

New models must continually be created to respond to the complex environment. The organisation of the future will be more organic than hierarchical, neural then linear, and virtual than mechanistic.

To achieve best practices, we must become what Warren Bennis call “leader of leaders.”

We have to position ourselves as network managers, leading and harnessing the resources of the brightest and most talented people to deliver our business solutions.

We must constantly be; in the words of Rosabeth Moss Kanter from Harvard University, “pooling, allying and linking” different organisations and free agents so as to move up the learning curve and food chain.

Ultimately, the mark of true leadership is the ability to seize destiny and create our own future.

To use the words of Charles Handy, winners will be those who ‘invent the world.’

Gary Hamel who is a strong subscriber to this view believes that ‘Whatever you need to know to create the future, you can know.’

While we may not totally agree with Professor Hamel’s words, we can draw comfort from the fact that nobody has proprietary or a monopoly of information about the future.

To create the desired future, we need to redefine a competitive environment that is plausible; one where we can develop with our resources and then strategically position and entrench ourselves in it.

We cannot afford to sit back and think the forces shaping the new world will not affect us.

Just as the advent of food courts have impacted small coffee shops and mega malls have given provision shops a run for their money, there is no place to hide except to challenge these disruptive forces by preempting, preventing, and proactively capitalising on these forces for the greater good.

The future is up for grabs. It can be a daunting or an exciting prospect.

Carpe Diem!Go4It!

I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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