The Case for Leveraging Disruption

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DISRUPTION IS NOT NEW. Historically, it has been an essential part of life, the decline and growth of business and the evolution of the capabilities of people. From the first tools, to fire and the wheel through to the agrarian, industrial and digital revolutions, disruption has always been intertwined with innovation to produce opportunity and advancement as well as uncertainty and unsettling change.

What makes disruption different today is the broad scope of change, its global scale, the exponential speed at which it is unfolding and the immediate, systemic impact on customer behaviour, channels to market, business and operating models, logistics, shareholder expectations and the underlying capabilities, skills and competencies on which all organisations rely.

For most organisations and their people, disruptive change is experienced as a rapid and disorienting break from what they are used to. As such, people and organisations find it hard to keep pace or even consider taking advantage of these changes. In this environment, our fundamental human capabilities, applied in the old way, are highly suboptimal. Conventional skills, basic competencies, ways of thinking, planning frameworks and approaches to strategy are not able to generate sustainable value and may even be dangerous.

Too often, people and organisations either lock into applying out-of-date capabilities by working longer, harder and faster or by applying change management, innovation, LEAN, AGILE or design thinking techniques that do not fully address the underlying issues associated with the challenge of rapid disruptive change. As a result, these approaches often fail to have the anticipated impact and become unfulfilled or meaningless investments.

What this Means for Organisations and People

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For organisations... this leads to strategies that have little hope of working, the high costs of continuous reorganisation, unrelenting turnover of talent, workforces that are cynical about change and change plans, loss of productivity, compromised sustainable ROI and vast increases in material strategic risk. It is in this state that organisational leaders are trying to answer the question, “What authentic changes do we have to make to our organisation to a) equip ourselves with the capability to meet and leverage imminent disruptive change, and b) what strategy do we need to leverage such disruption rather than fall foul of its consequences?”.

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For people... apart from a well-founded and growing sense of uncertainty and insecurity, disruption fuels a modern, global dilemma known as cognitive dissonance, where our behaviour is in direct conflict with our knowledge. In other words we question ourselves with: “I know that what I do is fast becoming out of date, but I keep on doing it”.

The reality of this mental state sits behind much of the disorientation, stress, anxiety and depression being experienced by people and within today’s workforces.

It is in this context that people are trying to answer the question, “What mindset do I need and what skills should I focus on learning to be able to deliver value into the future to retain valued and secure work?”

Not only are both of these dilemmas unproductive and costly for organisations and the people that employ them, they also undermine the safety and security of the societies and economies that organisations and communities rely on to be long-term, reliable customers, employees, suppliers and neighbours.

Start with the End in Mind – A Clear Purpose to Leverage Disruptive Change

We work with organisations and people who, over time, commit to pivoting with a clear purpose to leverage disruption. This is achieved through the gradual adoption of a new mindset, skill-set and strategic focus that enables leaders, at all levels to actively guide their organisation to leverage disruption.

At the same time, their people can focus on acquiring the knowledge and skills that will enable them to continuously and actively change ahead of change in order to leverage disruption – no matter what form of disruptive change they may experience.

Our belief in the power of pivoting with purpose to leverage disruption comes from twenty years of experience of working with leaders and people in organisations, governments and communities in Australia and the USA. Our focus and approach is based on a combination of hard evidence gathered through our diagnostic tools and research as well as the insights gained from the combined wisdom of all whom we have worked with over that period of time.

We know, through our research and those experiences, that given the right development opportunities and support, people and organisations can, and do, create organisational and personal strategies to leverage disruptive change.

For those not willing to embrace this path, there is a very real probability that, at best, they will suffer the slow death of MAD. Or, at worst, a rapid acceleration through a tipping point into their own Kodak or taxi industry moment.

In reality, the scope, scale, speed and systemic impacts of today’s disruption presents all people and organisations with this choice – fly forward with the tailwind of disruption in your sails or fall foul of its headwind consequences.

Resilient Futures’ purpose and our commitment is to partner and work with those people and organisations willing to consider and eventually commit to leveraging disruption as their preferred pathway forward.


This article is an excerpt from the 2019 Resilient Futures’ Overview Document.

Click here to access the full document.