The key to surviving the next disruption

by John Hilton21 Mar 2016
In 2012, Facebook launched its “Little Red Book” which set out to explain the company’s mission, history and culture to new employees.

Among the pages full of pictures and values is a quote that reads: “If we don’t create the thing that kills Facebook, someone else will.”

In fact, the same rule can also be applied to business leaders, said Dr Jason Fox, motivation strategy & design expert, and author of the new book ‘How to Lead a Quest: A handbook for pioneering executives’.

“If you don’t create the thing that will kill your business, someone else will,” he told L&D Professional.

“The question therefore is: Who is it internally that we have got designing the thing that will kill our business?”

The problem is that many organisations are not onto this because they are busy and they have no desire to challenge what’s working.

However, the savvier organisations are cultivating “internal startups” which are exploring other ways that they can deliver value for their customers.

Dr Fox explained that most of these experiments will fail and won’t lead anywhere except much richer learning. But sometimes we are going to get things that will create great progress.

“And so rather than waiting to be disrupted by some hidden startup on the outside, we can actually lead the disruption from the inside,” he said.

For Dr Fox, the fascinating thing is that nobody really knows where the next disruption is going to come from.

“If someone proclaims there is this one next disruption, people will be staring at that and it will be something out of their blind spot that will be the true disruption,” he said.

“So how an organisation goes about that is they cultivate curiosity, learning and empathy for emerging needs within their business. They value intrapreneurs and create internal startups that continuously explore and tinker.

“They contrast their business model against multiple possible future contexts to see where it may be incoherent and then they monitor the drivers of change.”

Moreover, they keep exploring with the people that are working at the very edge while conducting their own internal experiments to yield that thing that will lead to strategic advantage.

This will seem like a big luxury to many organisations, with many thinking it’s going to cost money and time which they can't afford.

“It’s going to be those organisations that can’t afford to do that which will find themselves irrelevant,” he said.

“It’s the ones that are curious enough to pioneer, to explore, to move beyond the default, that will obtain strategic advantage and lead the next disruption. If not that, they will be the ones able to mitigate the effects of disruption because it’s not going to hit them as such a surprise.”