Are You Disruption Ready?
I was once delivering a sales pitch to a well-known British Public School where they were looking for entrepreneurial and innovative ideas to disrupt the education sector.
My presentation focused on how they should exploit their brand by creating a global online education platform where children across the world could access learning at the right cost for them and at a speed that matches the child’s capability and progress. This was pre-Covid and before Social Value was of such high importance so, looking back, for the first time in my life I had positioned a capability that was perfect for the changing global environment.
The panel looked dumbstruck when I finished. I had clearly impressed – or so I thought. When the Headmaster started speaking, I realised I had misunderstood the brief. He outlined that they were looking for a plan to make the sports facilities more accessible to the wider public and sports clubs, with the aim of using the impressive grounds and school buildings for commercial events. Needless to say, I didn’t get the project.
They were looking for a plan that was 'commercially savvy' rather than 'disruptive'.
I am reminded of this event when attending conferences where speakers talk about the need for disruptors in their organisation and I always wonder: are they ready for disruption?
Many organisations have been caught out by digital change occurring across every sector from retail to defence. Where long term strategies were in place – the working culture during Covid accelerated the pace of digital change to such a degree that many organisations were left high and dry.
Therefore, they now need disruptors just to survive and keep up with the market but only if the organisation is ready to make the most of them. Below are five areas to judge whether your organisation is ready and therefore to anticipate the effect disruptors can have:
(Assess each area out of 20 marks to give yourself a percentage score of how ready you are for disruptors.)
Is there a Vision?
Do you know where you need to get to as an organisation by a certain date? How can you measure that success? If you can’t get this right you will blow in the wind with various leaders in the organisation introducing clever initiatives without really delivering the end-outcome or reaching your goal.
Do you have a Change Plan?
This will set out exactly what must be done, by when, and by whom. The senior leadership must be aligned (consider replacing individuals if they’re not), have clear metrics in place as milestones, and then empower the disruptors to make the change.
Do you know your Blockers?
Every organisation change will have blockers in place and hurdles to overcome. This could be people, processes, tools, regulation, or even culture inertia. Go around, go through, go over, or go under. I always think about the analogy of a racing car in a skid. The skid represents the blocker on your journey. You cannot slam on the brakes in a skid – you simply need to steer correctly out of skid and then accelerate to continue the race.
Do you know your Change Agents?
These individuals will be waiting for disruptors to help change the organisation. They are probably already disillusioned with the status quo but have learned to live with it. They are absolutely critical for change and will deliver and even accelerate change like superconductors so need to be identified and brought onboard as an inner circle as early as possible. Hence you need to know who they are and where they are.
How effective are your Communication Channels?
You can never have too many channels of communication. Up, Down, Sideways, Cross-Functional, Internal and External. Any change programme will be difficult, will never go the way initially planned, and there will be many days wondering whether it was the right thing to do. My recommendation is complete transparency with employees, stakeholders, customers, and partners, and through as many communication channels as possible, including social media. No matter how good your intentions and the reasons for change - there will always be cynicism; most people do not like change, especially middle management. So as well as sharing the reason for change and the vision – also share the timescale and clear success criteria.
Any score below 50% needs greater work from the current team to prepare an organisation for that disruptive talent that can deliver the vision needed to transform your organisation.