November 1, 2016 / Strategy / Wise Talk

WiseTalk Summary on How to Win in the Age of Disruption

On October 20, 2016, Sue Bethanis hosted Terence Mauri, a highly regarded leader speaker, author, and Entrepreneur Mentor In Residence (EMiR) at London Business School. He is an Inc. Magazine columnist, and advisor to executives and entrepreneurs around the world. Terence discussed his new book, The Leader’s Mindset: How to Win in the Age of Disruption, and spoke with Sue about how to inspire new leadership thinking to help you disrupt your industry, your organization and, ultimately, yourself.

Favorite Quote:

“If we are lucky, we get about 960 months (80 years) on this planet. Use that number as an energizer. We often accommodate what we should not accommodate for far too long.”

Insights:

Disruption is a word that can easily lose its meaning. Disruption means thinking and doing what others are not doing. Every disruption is innovative by virtue of it being a disruption, but not every innovation is a disruption. An innovation is an incremental improvement, where a disruption is when you do something big and bold that is 10x different or 10x faster. Many companies are still doing things the old way. According to Mauri, “It is time to upgrade, let go, and refresh.”

Thinking Big Mindset – Most of the time we think too small and think in incremental change. Thinking big is about imagination. Thinking big is also about acting small (disciplined) to execute on the details. The big problems that exist in the world are not going to be solved with incremental thinking.

Acting Bold Mindset  – To get ahead you need to have courage and resilience. You need Sisu – a Finnish word that means resilience, courage, and fierce tenacity. It is a mental toughness that happens in the face of adversity. Acting bold is also about having a voice and having the confidence to speak up. We can teach that by modeling that behavior. You need to give others permission and a signal that they have a duty of care and responsibility to speak up when they have an opinion, idea or contribution to make. That is how we grow and develop as a society. People are more courageous when they have a clear purpose and passion in life.

Learning Fast Mindset – The speed of change is breathtaking in the age of disruption. Unless you are constantly learning you are going to become the status quo very quickly. The learn fast mindset is about becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Reading, connecting, networking, putting yourself in new situations, and asking yourself – When was the last time I learned something new? You need to be passionate about your business and industry and the trends that are both exciting and scaring you. Learn fast is a survival skill in the age of disruption.

On Moonshot Thinking  – Moonshot thinking is about reimagining the future and trying to think 10X bigger rather than 10% bigger. The idea is to disrupt your thinking and take yourself out of the status quo. You need to shift your perspective so you can have the breakthrough ideas. Moonshot thinking demands you to rethink assumptions about what is possible. If you don’t have a strategy for changing the status quo at a personal or professional level you end up becoming it.

The 3 Box Tool for Disruption

  • Box 1 – Is about optimizing the present. Putting your best foot forward and doing the basics brilliantly. That’s what we are good at and where we spend most of our time.
  • Box 2 – Is about selectively letting go of the past. Let go of things that are holding you back. We need to be more courageous in doing this.
  • Box 3 – Is about creating the future. You need to have a plan and vision for your future. This is very difficult because we live in a time of constant noise and distraction. Too much information can lead to a poverty of attention. We have an attention crisis. Most managers and leaders struggle to focus on what matters every day.

What we found most interesting:

“Most successful people are self-confessed failure pioneers.” They are adept at failing faster and using failure as a learning tool. Failure is not the opposite of success; it is the stepping stone to success. Failure is a fundamental part of innovation and creativity. We need to look at failure as a way to get a step closer to success.

To learn more about Terence Mauri and his thoughts on disruption, listen to the WiseTalk recording.

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August 30, 2016 / Strategy / Wise Talk

WiseTalk Summary on the Disruption Dilemma

On August 18, 2016, Sue Bethanis hosted economist, Joshua Gans, the Jeffrey Skoll Chair in Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto and author of The Disruption Dilemma. Gans discussed his new research on innovation theory and the range of actions that leaders can take to deal with disruption.

Favorite Quote:

The disruption dilemma is “do we go for gold now or do we settle for silver every year?”

Insights:

  • Why do companies that are at the top of their game seem to get into trouble with disruptive innovations? Successful firms have trouble deciding what path to pursue because at first, their customers reject innovation, but eventually they begin to embrace it and the new entrant becomes a real business threat. That creates a real dilemma for an established firm.
  • Sometimes something new comes along that in addition to being innovative, is put together in a new and completely different way. Blackberry is an excellent example of this supply side disruption. They just didn’t have the right organization to be able to do what Apple and Samsung were doing. Often, the incumbents are handicapped by the operation and structure that made them successful.
  • You need to pay attention to the warning signs: A) a new product comes along and your organization dismisses it without evaluation, and/or B) situations where different parts of an organization have no idea what other parts of the organization are doing.

Tips for managing supply-side innovation:

  1. Your customers don’t know everything: You need to be actively monitoring new technologies and keep track of what’s going to be the next thing. You need to be strategic and anticipate the needs of the future.
  2. Acquire new disruptive entrants: Most firms have dealt with innovation by buying the firms that bring the new innovation to market. You must not only acquire them, but you also need to absorb them and their way of thinking and doing. Developing procedures is one way to make these acquisitions successful.
  3. Have very focused teams on rapid innovation and improvement: There is a cost to this, as you might have a very short time at the top of the industry, but there is the potential to make a lot of money in the short-term.
  4. Choose the life of the firm: By sacrificing rapid innovation you can lag a bit behind. This does come with a cost as you won’t have as many sales and you won’t be the leader in your industry. But, doing so will make your organization more flexible by breaking up silos and making sure that people rotate across teams. This doesn’t guarantee that a company will survive the next big disruption, but it does increase the odds quite a bit.

What we found most interesting:

Do you want to be gold or silver? Historically, when you choose to be gold you are choosing to be there for a short period of time. When thinking about disruptive threats, it is worthwhile to bring different parts of your organization together to identify and decide how you will deal with them.

To learn about Joshua’s theory and research on disruptive change, and more interesting insights about companies that have fallen to disruptive innovation, listen to the recording here.

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