Today’s economy, one that is fueled by major shifts in technology and financial crisis, is causing organizations to redefine their leadership approach in order to stay competitive. There isn’t a company that doesn’t talk of “getting digital” & C.E.O.s frequently refer to the fact that transformation and change are the new constants in managers’ conversations.
In fact, we are living in an age of disruption, arguably the biggest in the history of mankind.
So how is disruption changing the way organizations employ their leadership strategy? In this post, we will explore the main changes that this phenomenon has caused and its consequences worldwide.
Disrupting the structure: Flatter organizations
The main impact of a disruption economy is the emergence of “intelligent organizations”, where strategic reflection, innovation and creativity no longer only belong to the top of the pyramid elite (or in their respective departments). These integral attributes are dispersed throughout the organization and become engrained in the culture. When employees are truly invited to be a living part of the “strategizing process”, their organization becomes “intelligent”.
Disruption is neither industry, nor country-proof
The Disruption Economy was launched a long time ago: as, Business Futurist Gerd Leonhard explains, Johannes Guttenberg and his printing press were the very early warning signals that the knowledge revolution would impact the whole world. Later, the software industry repeated “Guttenberg’s trick”. The Disruption Economy rapidly went beyond Apache or Linux and affected the record, movie and TV industries. The electrical car modifies the existing orthodoxy in the world of electricity production and storage. The chemical, tourism, pharmaceutical industries are also touched. In time, it is probable that all sectors throughout the world will be impacted by the emergence of this economy.
How disruption causes global impact
Three factors explain why the Disruption Economy impacts, in different ways, most sectors of the economy.
Some sources estimate that there are about 40 totally disruptive technologies available around us but that nobody understands, let alone masters, all of them. Some disruptive technologies include Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Big Data, Biotechnology, Blockchain, Bots, Sustainability & 3D printing. These “technologies” or societal changes are profoundly affecting all sectors of our lives.
2.) The knowledge wave
As the famous futurologist Alvin Toffler predicted in the 70’s, the 21st century sees the emergence of the “Third Wave” of knowledge (after agriculture and industry). Researchers now suggests that the biggest impediment these days isn’t gender or race but, age. And by that they mean capacity to adapt, embrace and use new technologies. Compared to any other moment in history, this new wave of knowledge is pushing humanity to evolve exponentially– it is redefining the way people live through power & wealth, but also poverty and exclusion.
3.) Economic turmoil
The economic crisis of 2008 has left profound wounds in the “collective unconscious” of the people, all over the world. It has broken the implicit, moral contract that democratic nations had with their citizens. New values are emerging and different popular expectations too. People are now demanding another way to live in this new economy. Eleven years later, it is “contract breach” that explains why some countries elect dangerous leaders at their head or even choose dictatorships.
How can leaders adapt?
The world has changed fundamentally due to these factors, but fear not, a good leader can navigate these uncertain times with success, they just need to rethink how to employ their leadership, and adapt to this new age.
Stay tuned, in my next post, I’ll be exploring how to effectively lead in the age of disruption.
Learn more about the transforming role of leadership in our latest white paper, Emerging Trends in Leadership.
Didier Marlier is managing partner at Enablers Network, where he helps clients find disruptive strategies in an increasingly complex and chaotic business environment.