How to focus on the value of disruption: Commentary on the The Business Times article by Gianfranco Casati, Opinion, Pg 20, 20 Dec 2017

By PACE R&D Team

A common theme that has emerged among many industries in 2017 is that of disruption. Whether we see how technology companies such as Uber and Grab revolutionise the way that people commute, or how Bitcoin mania can potentially destabilise the global financial markets, the only thing that we can be certain of in these uncertain times is what the Greek philosopher Heraclitus mentioned about life being in a state of flux.

Disruption sometimes creates confusion, which can affect the bottomline of a company. It can be thriving one day and floundering the next because of disruption causing a change to their playing fields.

The point, however, shouldn't be about being wowed by disruption, but shifting our focus to learning how to take advantage of it, just as Casati mentions in his article.

Navigating the confusion that disruption may bring requires change. An organisation will find it difficult to adhere to its old values when the rules of the new playing field are completely different. A mindset change is thus necessary to develop a clarity of mind when planning new strategies to take advantage of any disruption. This mindset change is part of a framework that promotes real change in an organisation.

Content Enablers of Change

There has to be a sound reason, namely a perceived gap in the organisation, where the organisation sees a need to change. Disruption provides an avenue for an organisation to evaluate its deficiencies while crafting a new business model to adapt to the rules of the new playing field.

Upon knowing that there is a need to change, a new endpoint has to be determined, a final desired state that can be agreed upon, with prospects of an exciting future filled with endless possibilities that all members can visualise and work towards realising. The dedication to making this change has to remain consistent throughout to create a safety net for team members to fall back upon when things do not appear to go as well as they were planned out to be.

Context Enablers of Change

We know that changing for the future is not something to be taken lightly. Team members can be emotionally attached to past successes from previous models that they adapted and thrived in. It is therefore necessary to allow them time to process what it means to leave the old model behind and work on the new model for building on future successes. In addition, navigating any nascent negative emotions is a critical activity to build into the change process for enabling all members to be fully committed to it. 

Establishing trust and credibility amongst the leadership and staff is also crucial to catalysing this change process, where everyone is honest and consistent in their communications with each other.

Organisational change also needs to be driven by the management team in their commitment to making the change effective, as well as the commitment of passionate team members who have caught the vision and are buying into it 100%.

Process Enablers of Change

A two-way open communication channel between management and staff is pertinent to driving the change process. This channel allows for individuals to share their successes and ideas with others, as well as for clarifying expectations and ideas between the management team and the staff members. Constant dialogue aids in the engagement of the team members and facilitates them buying into the change process, and also helps with monitoring the key milestones involved in the change process.

While life may be in a state of constant flux, we can focus on the value of disruption and successfully make the most of it by understanding the content, context, and process enablers of change.

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