Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption
SHIFTING INTO A HIGHER GEAR
Raising Your Game—Individually and Organizationally
“If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right. Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
Living in the Age of Uber
We were recently at a wedding dinner in Boston honoring the daughter of a close friend from India. The daughter married a boy in the United States, and we were a few of the fortunate guests invited.
As the dinner was winding down, the younger sister of the bride was ready to call it a night. She exclaimed, “I’m getting Uber! Who wants to go back to the hotel with me?” She then began placing the order on her iPhone.
Within seconds she exclaimed excitedly, “A Suburban we can all fit in will be here in 10 minutes.” A few minutes later she nudged someone sitting next to her and asked, “Hey, shall I get a black one?” After getting confirmation that the color black was definitely the coolest of all color choices, she modified her order. And within 10 minutes she and others climbed into a shiny, new black Chevy Suburban. And that was that.
In this Age of Uber, there are now more Uber drivers (10,000) in New York City than yellow-cab drivers. New York City cab drivers are seeing a serious decrease in their business, and are in the process of asking the government to intervene and protect their livelihoods.
But it is not just Uber disrupting the livelihoods of taxi drivers. We live in an Age of Disruption. Virtually everything is being disrupted.
Moore’s Law Applied to Change
We suggest that the only constant going forward is change. We’re talking massive, disruptive, and tumultuous change. We are now in the bit economy. And it is beginning to look like radical change will be THE absolute going forward in the 21st century.
With just a quick glance through the news, it becomes apparent that disruption is everywhere.
MIT’s Media Lab announced that it has created a 4-D television that allows viewers to reach through the screen and touch the objects they are viewing. This might seem more like a gimmick than a game changer. But check this out.
Google recently declared that they want to be THE operating system for your life. Google wants to be everywhere you are. They’ve produced mobile software for your wrist, and are now focused on creating mobile software for your car and your living room.
Having cut our teeth in Silicon Valley, we suggest that a version of Moore’s Law will soon apply to the speed of change in the global business environment.
Gordon Moore was one of the original Intel co-founders. In 1965 he predicted that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits (microchips) would double every year going forward. And he has been right. We suggest that the speed of change in the global business environment will eventually reach a point where it is doubling every year.
Why Reinvention Matters
This book was written to help you and your organization increase your ability to facilitate major change when the need arises. And, we suggest, make that radical pivot even before seismic change interrupts your world.
Based upon years of study and experience on the subject of individual and organizational high performance, we predict that the ability to Reinvent Yourself and Reinvent Your Organization will be one of the most important competencies to have in the 21st century. In fact, having this ability may be simply the price of admission to play in today’s global chess game.
And why just maintain results? We believe there is a way to actually Accelerate Results by leveraging incoming global shockwaves with the right strategies.
Four Decades of Change Acceleration
In the 1980s, after global competition was introduced to the United States by the Big Three Japanese carmakers, the buzzword was “Change.” In the 1990s, the need to change seemed to intensify and the “Change” buzzword was replaced with “Reengineer.” Within four years of the publication of Michael Hammer’s Reengineering the Corporation, approximately 70 percent of all Fortune 500 companies admitted they had reengineered business processes. In the 2000s, urgency for improved business results seemed to greatly intensify, and the buzzword became “Transformation.” We suggest that today, and for the foreseeable future, the new buzzword will be known as “Reinvention”—where absolutely everything is on the table, and all assumptions are challenged in accelerated and quantum ways.
The Leader-Caretaker Myth
It’s not enough anymore just to keep up. Or to be what we call a Leader-Caretaker. As professionals, we must constantly position ourselves mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially to boldly lead the pack into the headwinds of change.
Look what happened to Microsoft after 12 years of leadership under CEO Steve Ballmer. Ballmer was the ultimate Leader-Caretaker. He played defense, and avoided offense. He led as if his role was simply to keep the company afloat after Bill left.
Ballmer fought hard to maintain the status quo. He always seemed surprised when the moat around his company began shrinking. He felt that sticking with what made Microsoft successful in the past—core hardware and software—was the recipe for success forever and ever. But the share price spoke otherwise. It dropped under his leadership from $60 in January 2012 to $30 by the time he departed in February 2014.
What will be Ballmer’s biggest legacy? In 2007 his management team pleaded with him to begin investing in cloud computing. Ballmer ignored these recommendations and instead placed all his bets on the doomed Vista operating platform.
On the other hand, there are leaders called Leader-Accelerators. These are the exceptional leaders of the 21st century. Leader-Accelerators think big and make things happen under almost any circumstance. They blow life and energy into people and processes. They have an incredible multiplier effect on results.
Elon Musk qualifies as a Leader-Accelerator. He is the serial entrepreneur behind PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, and Hyperloop. He was recently quoted as saying, “I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.”
Does leadership thinking get any bigger than that? Caretaking is no longer on option in today’s Age of Disruption!
What the Future Holds
Does leadership thinking get any bigger than that? Caretaking is no longer on option in today’s Age of Disruption!
It’s getting harder for futurists to predict upcoming changes in the global business environment. These strategists can no longer depend upon past trends for predictions. After all, just a decade before the World Wide Web became commonplace in 1996, there was very little buzz about its potential, or even its existence.
Although we may not know for certain what future global disruptions might be, we can be certain that they are already locked and loaded in the pipeline and are being prepared to launch.
Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are now vowing to disrupt entire industries. Hearing this, a Fortune 500 CEO recently commented anonymously that he and his fellow chief executives are now more concerned about the competition coming from the Bay Area than from traditional sources of competition.
And although many of the new ideas, technologies, and disruptions may emanate from Palo Alto and its neighboring cities, the phenomenon of disruption is clearly global.
Disruption Emanating from Nontraditional Geographies
We recently met Omar Christidis, the Lebanese founder and CEO of ArabNet.
ArabNet was launched in 2009 to help grow the web and mobile sectors in the Arab world. The intention was to stimulate growth in the digital knowledge economy throughout MENA (Middle East and North Africa). This would help create high-quality, knowledge-driven careers for young Arabs.
We were fortunate to attend the 2015 ArabNet conference in Dubai. The conference placed special emphasis on ways to disrupt traditional banks across MENA through peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding, mobile payments, electronic payments, crypto-currencies and more.
One speaker cited the acceleration of global investment in Fin- Tech start-ups. FinTech companies are newly funded companies with the purpose of disrupting incumbent financial organizations. Fueled by venture capital and private equity, Anthony Butler, of The Political Quarterly, calls this investment infusion the “Cambrian Explosion of Start-ups.”
What Happened to My Job?
To get our minds around the topic of quantum global change, let’s take a look at what futurist Graeme Codrington predicts for three of the world’s most prevalent jobs in the future:
- Private bankers, wealth managers, and stock traders: Dynamic programming and algorithmic engineering will eventually replace these positions. Most stock exchange floor traders are gone, and backroom traders are now struggling to keep their jobs. Stocks and commodities are being traded by complex and lightning-fast algorithmic platforms. As soon as these new machines have the capability to recommend the best ROI, private bankers and wealth managers will eventually disappear.
- Frontline military personnel: The military employs many young people who need jobs. But the US military is in the process of removing frontline military troops and replacing them with robots, drones, and other mechanical fighting machines. Advanced military forces like China and Russia will quickly follow. Eventually, people toggling video-like consoles in rooms far away from enemy fire will fight tomorrow’s battles.
- Lawyers and accountants: Artificial intelligence machines will eventually replace these white-collar jobs. The main tasks of these professions are crunching and dispensing valuable advice to clients. But scientists are making great strides in creating computers that are capable of intelligent behavior and thought.
Codrington is quick to point out, however, that whenever an economy replaces old jobs, many new jobs spring up. For instance, although frontline troops in the military might be replaced, there will be a high demand for new military roles such as drone operators, robot designers, and cyber warfare experts.
But this raises a question: Who will be prepared for these new jobs when they come online? We believe it will be those who proactively pursued cutting-edge education and skills training and who invested time and energy into making the necessary changes to their lives. These fortunate individuals will have anticipated job shifts ahead of others, and many will reinvent before they have to.
Changing Because You Choose to
Proactive personal change agents will be the winners in the new economy and in the growing on-demand marketplace.
The right approach to dealing with incoming change is to change before you have to versus change because you have to. Why not be proactive? Besides, who owns your career path and career trajectory other than you? And who is in charge of running your team, department, or organization at work?
Proactive strategies have always proven to be better than reactive strategies in terms of individual and organizational high performance. It’s better to make change happen on your own terms and within your own time frame.
Universal Principles of Change
This is the first business book to propose a reinvention-change methodology that works effectively for both individuals and organizations.
While writing this book, we actually tried to disprove this point. We asked, “Should we write two different books because the principles of reinvention are different for individuals versus organizations?” But we kept coming back to a singular thought: The principles of making quantum change happen individually and organizationally are the same. It is about moving from a current, less desired state to a future, more desired state with the many complexities that entails.
Our Reinvention Formula’s core backbone originates from the revolutionary work of David Beckhardt in 1969. It is truly remarkable that Beckhardt created this simple yet powerful model when the need for change in the US business environment was negligible. He was a pioneer and genius before his time.
He left us powerful models to build from many decades later. We are not sure Beckhardt could have predicted that an Age of Disruption would hit so hard and so fast in the future. We’ve refined and added to his model in ways that make it supremely relevant for today’s era.
Our Background in Change
As authors, we have more than 50 years of combined experience working with clients in the areas of individual and organizational change, leadership, strategy, redesign, and high performance. Many of our projects have been global in nature and have occurred in virtually every industry and in every region of the world. We have labored as internal consultants, external consultants, and executives. We’ve seen the same picture from three different directions.
After a while, you begin to identify clear patterns of what works and what doesn’t work when trying to make change happen and ultimately stick. It becomes obvious which theories written in business books are effective, and which theories should have remained just theories. Despite differences in cultures around the globe, there seems to be a common set of principles around reinventive change that transcend borders and continents.
New Concepts Presented in Our Book
We hope we have written a practical book that can be used as a resource guide in navigating change on a daily basis. There are several concepts we’re eager to introduce:
- The Age of Disruption: We live in the Age of Disruption, where the status quo is being challenged like never before and continues to accelerate in speed and complexity.
- The Global Shockwave 20: The 20 core global events that have driven the warp-speed business environment we operate in today.
The 21st-Century Competitiveness Cycle: Two Age of Disruption Principles that are predictive of an organization’s current and future competitiveness.
The Law of the 21st-Century Business Jungle: A powerful law, like gravity, that is firmly in place and must be acknowledged when leading yourself and your organization if you hope for success to occur.
The Six Deadly Blindfolds: Six fundamental reasons individuals and organizations tend to slip into irrelevance and ultimately fail.
Reinvention Agility Matrix: The judo-oriented metaphor that describes the four different ways individuals and organizations respond to disruptive change.
The Message of Mavericks: Proposing two principles called “To Buoy or Not to Buoy” and “To Disrupt or Be Disrupted” that predict a person’s or organization’s ability to identify, and prepare for, incoming global shockwaves.
Reinvention Formula and Reinvention Roadmap: A simple algorithm used to facilitate successful reinventive change that accelerates results. And a comprehensive roadmap, game plan, and template that provide 11 specific activities to make reinvention a reality.
Leadership as the Force Multiplier: Leadership is at a premium, and nothing force multiplies results, for better or worse, than leadership at the individual, team, organizational, or societal levels.
Reinvention Evaluations: Valuable benchmarks that convey where you and your organization stand in relation to the need and readiness for reinvention.
Reinvention Accelerators: Five enabling strategies that accelerate successful reinvention: 1) Adopting Effective Leader Sets; 2) Leveraging Whole-Brain Thinking; 3) Crafting a Powerful Leadership Brand; 4) Being a Reinvention Champion; and 5) Preserving Work–Life Balance
Defining True Success
We recently spoke to 350 entrepreneurs representing 40 different countries at a conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was powerful to mingle with foreign colleagues and to understand the desires and challenges they faced. Every participant seemed to have a burning desire to make a difference in the various industries and nations they represented.
The speakers were excellent. But there was one speaker from the United Kingdom, a personal wealth coach, who created a hush among the audience when he espoused a principle that rang true to all listening.
He said, “Your passion, not your career, is what defines you. Nobody cares what you do. They care who you are.”
As we dash around trying to maintain profitability despite massive change, this powerful idea of focusing on “who you are” versus “what you do” seems critical. It is essential that we hold tight to those fundamental core values and characteristics that make us effective at leading others and leading ourselves.
Perhaps the noblest gift we can give colleagues is our time, attention, and compassion when they struggle professionally or personally under the burden of today’s disruptive environment.
Practicing What We Preach
We’ve partnered with our publisher to innovate the layout and format of this book. Why not practice what we preach and do a little disrupting of our own?
Instead of typical chapter summaries, we have asked six global leadership, change, and innovation experts from different industries, knowledge domains, and geographical business regions to provide their unique insights and learnings for each chapter. We appreciate the investment each of them has made to make this truly a global book.
Taking the Reinvention Challenge
If you choose to take the challenge of reinvention, we invite you to share with us your experience. We are creating a community of reinventors and would enjoy having you on our team.
We facilitate four global think tanks—Global-Virtual Thought Leadership Clouds—that are comprised of thought leaders from different knowledge domains and regions throughout the world. Each Cloud publishes on a semiannual basis the best global knowledge and best practices in the four intangible areas that focus on Leader-Acceleration, Shared Energy, Vibrant Innovation, and Change Mastery. Reinvention is a component within the Change Mastery Cloud.
Please visit www.ageofdisruption.com to become part of our community. Thanks for picking up our book!
Shane Cragun and Kate Sweetman
Boston, Massachusetts, 2016