How to respond to disruption

The word ‘disruption’ has become something of a buzz word amongst entrepreneurs, innovators and society in general, and yet the breadth with which we see disruption each day is not being realised.

When we think of disruption, we often think of the tech start-ups that are creating fundamental shifts in the way consumers engage with and receive products and services, but disruption comes back to the very basic concept of change, which affects each and every one of us.

It’s easy to take a myopic view based on what we can see in our current generation, with technological changes, to think that we’re the first to experience large scale change, but we’re not.

The rapid pace of change in society, from technological and scientific advances, to their carry-on effects on the environment and business, have shown no sign of slowing.

The idea of long-term strategic plans has become a thing of the past. Organisations need to be more responsive, attuned and creative in planning for multiple directions and scenarios to the best of their insight, but also make sure they are working hard on nurturing and recruiting leaders who have agility, welcome change and see change as an opportunity.

When faced with change and disruption, how we respond is a testament to our resilience. Change is constant and we need to shift our perceptions away from ‘change is bad’ to ‘how can I make this better’ or even, ‘excellent, a new opportunity to improve’.

Resilient organisations are not only adaptive and agile to disruption and change, they are innovation leaders that drive disruption and change.

What you can do if your industry is being disrupted

1. Recognise when you find yourself fixated or paralysed in a state of rumination regarding the disruption whilst it is happening. Complaining, protesting and resisting rarely achieves anything other than breeding negativity and pessimism.

2. Shift your mindset. From a resilience perspective, you need to allow yourself to make peace with the fact that the change is inevitable. A hallmark of a resilient leader is how fast they can move themselves and others from a place of adversity, to seeing the environment as a challenge, to seeing it as a place of opportunity. Leaders require empathy when working with teams and individuals, as well as a broader ‘greater good’ focus for where the organisation itself is going.

3. Invest in ‘preparedness to change’. Finding the opportunity in change is a constant challenge. I’ve seen a number of companies that have become corporate entities and have brought across corporate CEO end teams to encourage the preparedness to change, and accelerate that process. It is possible and necessary to also work with existing staff to build these competencies. It isn’t a greenfield site, it is helping your staff to thrive in an environment change.

4. Foster a culture of creativity that rewards breakthrough approaches to meeting existing customer needs and/or reaching new markets. Remove a fear-based culture where staff fear saying the wrong thing and it’s within staff interests to ‘keep your head down’. Instead encourage a risk-taking culture, allowing time and space for considering possibilities.

Stuart Taylor, Founder and CEO, The Resilience Institute Australia

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