Leading Change in a Disruptive World

June 24, 2019 at IE Business School, Global Advanced Management Program

Session 1: LEADING CHANGE

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  • Making sense of today’s world, the challenge and opportunity of relentless change
  • The future isn’t like it used to be, so we can’t keep doing what we used to do
  • 100 companies changing the world right now. What can you learn from them?
  • Start with a future mindset, jump ahead, look forwards not backwards
  • Going beyond limits, how will you be the change, how will you achieve more?

Session 2: THE FUTURE BUSINESS

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  • How is the 21st Century Business different from the 20th Century Business?
  • East and West, Tech and Human, Profit and Purpose, Start-up and Corporate
  • Paradoxes provide new opportunities … to reinvent how we work, how we win
  • Learning from Asia’s high growth markets, and doing business differently
  • Defining the DNA of the future business, and what it takes to be a great leader

Session 3: DARE TO BE MORE

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  • Aurora … Create the future, like Masayoshi Son and Emily Weiss
  • Komorebi … Seize the best opportunities, like Anne Wojcicki and Wang Xing
  • Transcendence … Find more purpose, like Larry Fink and Yves Chouinard
  • Ingenuity … Innovate with humanity, like Devi Shetty and David Kelley
  • Syzygy … Transform your business, like Bernard Arnault and Jeff Bezos
  • Ubuntu … Achieve more together like Piyush Gupta and Zhang Ruimin
  • Awestruck … Be a better leader, like Pablo Isla and Tadashi Yanai

Introduction

We live in the most incredible time. More change in the next 10 years than the last 250 years. Technologies with the power to help us leap forwards in unimaginable ways. To transform business, to drive radical innovation. to accelerate growth and achieve progress in the broader world too.

Artificial intelligence and robotics will come together with new mindsets and business models to disrupt everything from entertainment to education, healthcare and travel. For businesses, large and small, it creates a new playing field, with many new possibilities. For people, young and old, it brings new challenges and opportunities. For leaders, it demands new perspectives, new values, and radical new thinking.

“Leading Change” is about having the courage to achieve more. It is about stepping up to see further ahead, to explore more radical ideas, to discover new talents, to seize bigger opportunities, to have more influence, and to positively amplify your impact.

It’s about daring to be more.

Going beyond the ordinary to achieve extra ordinary results. It requires new thinking, and new approaches. It demands change. It probably requires that you are the change. Leading yourself and your business to a new place, to win in today and tomorrow’s world.

“Leading Change” is about rising up to lead the future of your business … There are 7 elevations, 7 ways for leaders to raise their game, that we will explore:

  • Winning… to rise above the pursuit of progress through incrementalism, to develop a future mindset, a forwards orientation, redefining success and how to achieve it.
  • Sensing… to rise above the chaos of change to see the drivers of tomorrow, making sense of complexity and uncertainty, finding the best new opportunities.
  • Framing… to rise above the limitations of business as a profit machine, to capture a higher purpose, guided by the desire, strategies and choices, to make life better.
  • Creating … to rise above the obsession for technologies, whilst harnessing their intelligence and capabilities, to innovate more radically for people and society.
  • Delivering … to rise above the limitations of big and small, incumbent or start-up, transforming organisations, fusing brands and networks with speed and agility.
  • Teaming … to rise above what we each contribute separately, to harness the power of diversity and collaboration, people and platforms, achieving more together.
  • Leading … to rise up to be the leader of the future business, with courage to embrace change and progress, inspire and enable others, finding your own magic.

Consider some of the challenges of our changing world:

  • In the last 25 years, China’s share of global manufacturing output has grown from 2% to 25%. Over that time China’s GDP has grown thirty-fold.
  • In the last two decades, 9.6% of the earth’s total wilderness areas has been lost, equalling an estimated 3.3 million square km.
  • 51% of job activities can be automated, only 5% of jobs entirely replaceable by machines. However more new occupations will emerge than those lost.
  • New digital technologies can enable a 20% reduction in global carbon emissions by 2030, equivalent to eliminating more than China and India’s CO2
  • Car sharing could reduce the number of cars needed by 90% by 2035, resulting in only 17% as many cars as there are today.
  • CEO pay has risen 1,000% over the last 40 years, howeveraverage worker pay has increased by just 11%, essentially stagnating taking into account inflation
  • 72% of people feel that companies have become more dishonest. 93% of CEOs believe it’s important to engender trust that their company “will do the right thing”.

How will you rise up to do better?

Idea 1. More change in the next 10 years than the last 250 years.

How will you shape the future of your business? From the steam engine to the telephone, automobiles and aeroplanes, space travel and digital revolution, the world has moved forwards rapidly since the industrial revolution. Today’s revolution, driven by aspects such of robotics and AI, will be just as dramatic, but much faster. The next decade’s accelerating change, proliferation of technologies, rapid speed of adaption, and the exponential impacts that result, will dwarf the scale of previous progress. How will we rethink and reinvent our worlds?

Idea 2. Infinite potential, significant choices

How will you seize the opportunities of incredible change? Markets rise and fall, collide and evolve. Power shifts economically and politically, culturally and collectively. Young, intriguing start-ups grab the attention, whilst the older incumbent companies struggle to respond and adapt. Technology, most significantly, disrupts the rules of play, and the possibilities by which we can win. The challenge and opportunities are immense, but where to focus is not obvious. You have more choices than ever before, in terms of who, where, what and how. Global or local? China or India? Online or physical? Human or machines? Make or partner? The choices of course, are not binary or separate, but a huge spectrum of options. How will you make the smarter choices, the right choices for your future?

Idea 3. The paradox of “forwards versus backwards”

Are you doing what you’ve always done?  Everybody struggles with this tension, spending too much time looking backwards, and not enough looking forwards. We pour over last year’s performance, learning from previous customers, talking about what we currently know, and rewarded for our past successes. We believe in the formula that got us to where we are, commercially and personally, afraid to let go of it. Yet the past is no longer a guide to the future. The future isn’t like it used to be, a continuation of today. It’s volatile, complex and ambiguous. Too many companies spend most of their time playing the old game, optimising their existing models, and trying to stretch the model which made them successful in the past. Are you looking forwards or backwards?

Idea 4. Pivot to the future

Start with a future mindset. New strategies, acquiring a few start-ups, and driving a program of innovation are not enough. They are typically framed in the context of the old world, the existing business, and an outdated mindset. Top-down business planning, stage-gate product development, and functional operations just don’t work in this new volatile and vibrant context. The old business thrived on stability and predictability, efficiency and repetition. What matters most is the mindset, the attitude to want to change, to be open to new ideas, to have a passion for the future, and to shape it in your own vision. A “growth mindset” is about exploring what’s next, whilst a “fixed mindset” seeks perfection, to optimise the status quo. Best of all, is a “future mindset” which embraces experimentation and growth, to see and shape the future to your advantage.

Idea 5. Build your future-proof business

Start-ups have all the advantages, don’t they? Corporate executives sit in their offices looking out with envy at the speed and agility of small companies, with their ability to start afresh with legacy infrastructures, to grab the new investment and focus on stretching and single-minded dreams, to inspire customers with their funky newness and new business models, and to easily for partnerships. Whilst “speedboats” have many advantages, the “supertankers” have their own strengths. Their challenge is to reimagine how they use their assets in new and powerful ways. Established audiences and diverse portfolios, established supply and distribution networks, experienced people and trusted reputations. The question is how to reimagine the business, to harness what exists and embrace the new. Start-ups and corporates both have advantages, it’s how they use them that matters. The future-proofed business combines the best of both speedboats and supertankers. Size is not the important thing. Transformation is not a one-off. Innovation and transformation are relentless in today’s world. Knowing what you will do next, and next, and next, matters. The future-proof organisation has a built-in appetite to keep reinventing itself.

Idea 6. Harness the power of ideas and networks

What makes a business successful? It’s certainly not about being the biggest company. Anybody can make lots of products, and sell them, usually at a discount. Equally, any company can have a great market share, if they just redefine the boundaries, or don’t care about profitability. So how did WhatsApp create $19 billion in 3 years with 17 people? Or Uber $66 billion in 6 years? Or Alibaba $470 billion in 13 years? They harnessed the power of addictive ideas – concepts, brands and experiences that spread rapidly across their target audiences. They harness the power of networks, in the form of platforms and ecosystems, affiliates and licensees, social media and online communities. The impact is exponential, in that it rapidly multiplies in reach and richness.

Idea 7. Be the radical optimist

Be curious and optimistic. Believe in a better world. What will it take to create the future of your business? If you don’t somebody will need to. Will your legacy be that you managed to postpone the demise of a sinking ship for a little longer, trying to survive in unchartered waters? Or will you be the navigator of incredible new voyages, with a fit for purpose boat, seizing the opportunities of new lands? Innovation today is less about products and services, more about markets and businesses. Transformation is probably a better word, because it demands holistic change. It also becomes relentless, not a short intervention, to get you to a new steady state, but a dynamic business for dynamic markets.  Most of all, it starts with, and depends upon, you. Your mindset. Your transformation. Your leadership.

Idea 8. New technologies enhance our human and business potential

Is AI your rocket fuel to the future?Digital platforms like Alibaba and Airbnb bring millions of buyers and sellers together, big data analytics enable precision and predictive experiences like Netflix, 3D printing deletes factories and distributors from value chains, blockchain localises connections and decisions, robotics augments your capabilities, and perhaps most powerfully, AI can reinvent the very essence of what you do. Collectively they accelerate and converge, disrupt and transform every business function, across ever industry. Industry 4.0 is a revolution that challenges the existence of millions of businesses and jobs, Amazon can seem like the enemy of most retailers, Snapchat can feel like the insane distraction of our kids. Yet these technologies also create the possibilities to learn and live in new ways, for even the most traditional business, a local craftsman or a remote trader, to do more, better and cheaper, and go further and faster.

Idea 9. This is the Asian century. Time to follow the new Silk Road

Will you be the Marco Polo of China’s new Belt and Road? 5 billion people, two thirds of the world’s megacities, one third of the global economy, two-thirds of global economic growth, thirty of the Fortune 100, six of the ten largest banks, eight of the ten largest armies, five nuclear powers, massive technological innovation, the newest crop of top-ranked universities. Asia is also the world’s most ethnically, linguistically and culturally diverse region of the planet, eluding any remotely meaningful generalization beyond the geographic label itself. Even for Asians, Asia is dizzying to navigate.

Idea 10. Customers have new agendas, markets have new structures

What are the new drivers of value? Markets have super-segmented, driven by their individual needs, expectations and the ability of technology to engage each person uniquely. As trust in brands declines, they demand more value and greater transparency, and they turn to friends and peers for recommendation. They work on their terms not yours, requiring you to connect with their worlds – fusing public and private, digital and physical, personal and professional – changing contexts for purchase and the nature of value. Collectively as communities and society, their priorities have changed, beyond fairness and environment, demanding more, and rewarding those who deliver.

Idea 11. The paradox of “order versus chaos”

How do you make sense of all this complexity?Our inclination is to seek clarity, to put this new world into boxes, that make choices and targeting easy. But the world no longer lives in a convenient order, and any attempt to order it would miss the dynamic richness, and the new marketspaces. Day fuses with night, home with work, education with entertainment, rich with poor, male with female. There are no straight lines, instead we have brilliant ambiguities. The apparent chaos is the new order. Take customer insight for example, where the old method of seeking average insights about what we already know, is replaced by anthropological discovery, or “design thinking” to explore people in their changing lives. Sometimes it is about reducing chaos and complexity, to find focus and simplicity. Yet newness is often found in the complexity, outside of the old boxes.

Idea 12. Making sense of complexity demands a new worldview

What is your better worldview? When I asked Jim Snabe, chairman of Siemens and Maersk, how he makes sense of his business world, he paused. His first reaction was the obvious, to understand his specific industries, his customer and competitors, today. But then he reflected on the inadequacy of that current view. If what comes next will be different, then he needs to look differently for it, he said. Seeing the bigger picture, is one way to change our viewpoint, but it’s probably still not enough. We still put ourselves at the centre, and then explore the obvious adjacencies. Instead it’s about looking ahead, seeing the emerging patterns of change, the parallels and possibilities, how to react to them, to seize the best new opportunities first. Put simply it’s about being farsighted.

Idea 13. Start from the future, then work backwards

How do you find the best new opportunities?You start from the end point, and then work backwards. As a scientist I have always valued the power of hypothesis. As Einstein wandered through the Swiss mountains, he hypothesised a connection between energy and matter. It was then through experimentation that he proved the association and simplified it to a mathematical formula. Similarly, in dynamic markets, we should start with a hypothesis. This is a creative process. It is about asking profound questions, exploring alternative futures, looking beyond the boundaries of today. Ideas come from everywhere, from other industries or geographies, and from the margins where deviant behaviours and newness emerge. Developing a vision of what the future market will be like enables us to work backwards, and look at how it could evolve, and how we could be most influential in that, turning it to our advantage. This is more intuitive than analytical, requiring leaders to engage deeply in seeing and choosing the future they want.

Idea 14. Sensemaking becomes your competitive advantage.

The best surfers live for the biggest waves. Similarly, the best leaders thrive on radical change. Change that starts in the market and is positively embraced by the business. In the same way the surfers are constantly searching for that next big wave, scanning the global coastlines, travelling hours to get there, so business leaders should be watching the future. “Sensemaking” if you like, becomes the way to outthink, and ultimately outperform, the others in your current or future market, the way to attract customers who have a hunger for newness, and the way to make the right choices when complexity can seem overwhelming. It requires a holistic mind, one that can interpret likely cause and effect, that can use hypothesis and analogy. It requires a leadership team who have diversity of vision yet engage in a collective view of the future. There is no right or wrong, only possibility and choice. Perhaps most usefully, it requires a leader who can ask the right questions.

Do you have the belief of Eliud Kipchoge, to harness technologies like that of AlphaGo, that can transform businesses like Satya Nadella, with the beauty of Zhang Xin, letting go of the past like Mary Barra, creating the legacy of Jack Ma, and realising dreams like JK Rowling? And do it your way?

 

© Peter Fisk 2019

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