In a world of exponential change leaders need to be ‘looking out the window’ as to what will disrupt to their industry and / or business model. To assume that past success, significant market share or longevity will serve as barriers to sweeping disruption is dangerous thinking. Agility, nimbleness and adaptability will need to be part of your company’s DNA in order to thrive into the future. The starting point in developing these characteristics is to be ‘looking out the window’ and framing the right questions to be asking. The effectiveness of your strategic intent will depend on how and where you look and the quality of the questions you ask as you do so. It is that simple; it is that complex.
There are five disruptions that we in TomorrowToday believe will impact your business and shape your future. The framework that we have developed to engage with these disruptions is known as the ‘TIDES of Change’ and is one that we have presented and consulted on throughout the world across multiple industries. ‘TIDES’ is an acronym for each of the disruptions to pay attention to as you ‘look out the window’.
TIDES offers a means of being able to have a coherent conversation about the future and develops a deeper understanding as to ‘why’ and ‘how’ things are changing.
Here then are five disruptions that you simply cannot afford to ignore.
- Technology. The impact of technological change is ubiquitous and invasive. From driverless cars to robotics; from nanotechnology to DNA sequencing; from the development of grapheme to Google Glass. Over the past 20 years, the power of computing technology has increased by over a million times. The next few years are likely to see some astounding advancements in technology, as computers head towards what is sometimes called the “singularity” (this is the moment when computers become intelligent enough to learn and think for themselves). The way we obtain, process, store and use information is undergoing a revolution that is changing the ‘rules of the game’ in both our relationships and within our corporations.
- Institutional shifts. Jack Welsh is credited with saying that when, ‘the rate of change outside exceeds the rate of change inside, the end is in sight’. Because of the rapid external change, institutions have to find ways to respond accordingly. This ‘internal’ change is being driven by multiple factors including regulatory requirements, legislation, industry norms as well as internal cultural shifts brought about by diversity and global reach. It is one that requires new mindsets and new skill-sets at both an individual and corporate level.
- Demographics. Perhaps the most ignored of all leadership agenda subjects and arguably the most important. The shifts taking place across the world have massive implications. These demographic shifts are both changing and creating markets and shaping consumer habits and behavior. They have logistic and strategic implications that are both obvious and subtle all at the same time. Whether it is the rate of urbanization, the rise of a middle-class, a shift in the median age of the population or the impact of marriage deferred or ignored – demographic shifts cannot be ignored.
- Environmental. The ‘green agenda’ is here to stay and it will shape policy, practice and be something that has both internal and external ramifications. Future generations of consumers and workers will not be as forgiving and tolerant as those from the past and too many leaders are not serious enough when it comes to this critical topic.
- Shifting Social Values. There are many ways to ‘see’ this disruption but the most obvious is that of generational theory – understanding what drives generational behavior. The felt need that is labeled the ‘war for talent’ is where this disruption is being keenly experienced. A generation entering the workplace that has a different view on life / work balance, has a different approach to how to build a career and is arriving at the workplace with different questions and with different expectations. Value shifts around gender issues and relational issues all find their way into the workplace and cannot be ignored.
Against this constantly moving backdrop, Leaders need to intentionally build a systematic framework that will yield a bigger picture and understanding from which they can then think and act. It is not the strongest or the most intelligent that survive but rather those most responsive to change. That wise Sage, Peter Drucker once said, ‘The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence, it is to act with yesterday’s logic’. He was right. The TIDES framework is a way of paying attention to what is happening ‘out there’ in order to know what to do ‘in here’.
So what are the question you should be asking, but aren’t?