Discovery Leadership Masterclass Series with Frank Adu Anim: Adaptability intelligence (2)

  • catalysing the impacts of disruptive change and adaptability for organisational transformation

We all confront unexpected changes throughout our lives, and our responses are often determined by how we perceive those changes. If we see a change as a threat, we tend to react defensively – taking immediate and aggressive action to protect ourselves. If, however, we see the change as an opportunity, we tend to be more deliberate and reasoned in our responses. In this change situation, we tend to postpone our actions as we wait to see how the change situation plays out.

In like manner, several organisations employ continuous change for the simple reason of disruptions and convenience. Though many disruptions in business have proven successful by increasing customer convenience, the challenge for turning disruptive change and organisational adaptability into a critical significant business success is perceived to influence the organisation’s behaviour – framing the critical responsibility of business leaders to be future-ready for transformation and business turnaround.

More so, disruptive change is a useful mechanism for making sense of an increasingly uncertain world and the responses it demands. The concept defines the sudden shock that quickly and irreversibly changes a company’s expected future, challenging existing business models, values and norms.

However, to cause a successful disruption on purpose and achieve desired results is rare and difficult. This is because, by nature, disruptions are unexpected and a business may cause a disruption by accident. Largely, incidences of business ‘shocks’ from events such as economic crises and/or an innovative competitor that disrupts the market-share balance may be considered major causes of disruptions.

When a company faces a major disruption in its markets – one that could fundamentally change the business’s bottom line, the way its managers perceive the disruption influences how they describe it to the rest of the organisation; how they organise the response, and how they allocate resources; if they see that disruption as a threat, they tend to over-react by committing too many resources too quickly.

I must emphasise that while business disruption may have benefits for a company or industry, it can also have disadvantages. As such, understanding the concept provides much-needed knowledge to build the pathway and frameworks for management decisions in turbulent times. Let’s discuss disruptive change and adaptability intelligence for business transformation.

What is Disruptive Change?

It is understood that the rate of disruptive change in business during recent times has increased exponentially. As we see, several organisations undergo continuous change to bring about a new culture wherein change is not meant for coping but to thrive. These fundamental changes, when they happen, often disrupt the way an organisation conducts business and informs its strategies for remaining competitive and/or sustainable. In the case of genuine disruptive innovations, a lot of things like cost structures, business models, customer networks and product applications get to be reworked.

The notion for Disruptive change should however be understood as a business occurrence emanating from the need for innovation in industries, changes in the company’s structure and/or transformation in business models which have hitherto been calling for change. Disruptive change when managed well redefines business processes and gets them to function better, revenue gets improved and the employees become efficient.

Disruptive change is often characterised by a major transformation that takes place within an organisation or industry which was triggered by a significant shift in the market, societal values or technology that alters how things are done.

Quite significantly, effective management of disruptive change can be so impactful that it transforms the entire organisation – ensuring it adapts to changes and difficult situations, and so opens it up to the development of new ideas and perspectives for experiment and the reactiveness in staying ahead of new changes and challenges. Let’s take a deep dive into disruptive change and how it impacts businesses.

Impacts of disruptive change on businesses

If a business can recognise disruption and adapt to it, it may find new ways to grow. Businesses that take advantage of disruption may also change the industry they operate in, with the potential to profit from its structure in the future. This business disruption has the power to shift a market and change the definition of relevance within an industry. Here, we see that disruption change if managed well:

Transforms a business model

Disruption can change the entirety of a business model by taking advantage of growing innovations within existing systems and new technology. As technology continues to increase in capability, more opportunities to transform a business model from one purchasing technique to another emerge. Smart companies therefore adjust their strategies to take advantage of this new, changed situation.

Improves efficiency

When a business creates a new idea that is more efficient than what’s currently available, it will likely replace other systems or practices. For example, disruption of the mobile phone as a replacement for landline phones causing a significant decrease in popularity for landline phones. This means that improving industry standards through disruption often results in enhanced efficiency.

Improves business flexibility

Using or taking part in a business disruption allows a company greater flexibility in its methods, such as production and distribution. This is because responding to the innovations of disruption requires a quick turnaround; such that businesses can learn to turn ideas into products or results faster.

New opportunities for growth

While creating a way for a business to participate in disruption, upper management may also see new ways to grow a business even further. New markets and ways to increase sales may not be a disruption, but businesses can discover growth opportunities during the disruption process. For example, if a business participates in disruption by creating a new mobile marketing campaign, they may also discover a new way to advertise or a new market they can sell products in.

Increased customer satisfaction

Because disruption results often align with customer needs, participating in disruption can increase an organisations’ customer satisfaction rating with suitable products or services. This can lead to more Customer loyalty, Customer referrals, repeated customers and convenience.

But as I intimated earlier, disruptive changes are not normally planned changes; they are simply the business uncertainties that come to affect the normal course of business. That said, let’s have a walk through some fundamental challenges disruptive change may come with.

Challenges posed by Disruptive Change

As a norm, business changes will hit us almost every day. However, not being able to manage any unexpected change could push the organisation out of business. The abrupt change in business environment can be shocking, and attempts at trying to cope with it could waste valuable resources. Once this is identified, business leaders are advised to know the challenges associated with sudden change and effectively allocate resources to cope with the situation.

Disruptive change can decrease demand for a company’s services, increase research costs or drive down the price customers are willing to pay. Nevertheless, businesses that respond to disruptive change may be able to capitalise on the new market and increase profits and competitiveness.

Equally important is the factor of an organisation’s processes dealing with change when they’re disrupted. The type of business processes in place and how effectively the organisation is coping with such change using the defined processes will determine the business’ success going forward. These business processes encompass both formal and informal interaction, coordination, communication and decision-making with employees.

To satisfy the question of how effective the change is going to be lies with decision-makers’ ability to analyse multiple factors in order to answer. Arguably, resources play a vital role in the change process, and the better the resources the easier it will become to manage disruptive change in business.

Organisational Transformation through Disruptive Change

It is important to establish that while change is momentary, transformation is forever. When the organisation leverages disruption of any kind to its advantage and become a positive disruptor, it sets the standard and pushes ahead for greater opportunities. The prevailing business trends are that several business industries are going through transition phases as of now – and such disruptive changes happening are forcing business leaders to adapt to those changes and evolve with the changing market conditions, or formulate policies to deal with those changes effectively and efficiently to their advantage.

Furthermore, the importance of disruptive change management lies in one simple fact: that disruptive change presents new business opportunities for those bold-enough businesses that embrace and prepare for it. It must be emphasised that as markets and technology evolve, new ways to approach products or services will evolve as well. The singular approach of organisations in proactively seeking out and exploiting these opportunities offers the impetus to stay ahead of their competitors, capture more market share, allow for greater innovation in their business offerings as well as opens the business up to other possibilities that would otherwise be closed off.

It is therefore imperative for organisations to remain proactive in their approaches to managing foreseeable disruptive changes; because when a disruptive change takes place, it can have a huge impact on businesses of all sizes. Existing products or services often become obsolete as new technologies and customer demands enter the market.

In addition, disruptive change can shift the competitive landscape as new players enter the field with innovative products and services. Therefore, businesses must be prepared to compete with these newcomers or risk being left behind.

Finally, regulation or customer behaviour changes can affect how businesses operate too. Companies may need to adjust their processes or services in conforming with new laws and regulations, and address changes in customer preferences for instance. The overall disruptive change effects can be a difficult challenge for businesses to navigate. However, one can find opportunities in the chaos with the right attitude and an agile approach. How then do organisations take advantage of disruptive change situations?

Separated for better performance through Adaptability Intelligence

There are certainly some costs to pay in developing or transforming an organisation to take advantage of disruptive change situations. Obviously, organisations that invest in advance creativity and innovation take charge and turn it into transformation that positions them as disruptors and not the disrupted. Here, we find that organisations are able to post a greater business performance by:

Embracing Change

The willingness to accept and adapt to changes in the market makes the organisation stay competitive. Once there is acknowledgement that disruptive change is inevitable, even desirable and to be looked forward to, businesses are able innovate and find better ways of capitalise on new opportunities to stay competitive.

Monitoring the Market

There is no denying the fact that businesses must stay active in monitoring market transactions and trends – to keep an eye out for indicators of disruptive change such as emerging technologies or customer behaviour shifts; so the business being able to quickly respond when necessary is critical. Taking proactive steps and responses to any changes in the market will ensure an advantage with opportunities for business success.

Investing in Innovation

Equally important is an invitation to investment in innovation that has potential to position the business to stay ahead of competition and find new sources of revenue from disruptive changes occurring in the market.

However, the key to successful innovation is navigating the disruptive change by maintaining a flexible attitude and approach to business operations. Thus, organisations ought to be prepared to pivot quickly and adjust their processes or services when necessary.

Planning Ahead

As an organisation, to be set apart for greater performance is to plan ahead always. A plan for responding to disruptive change and development can help to define its competitiveness and sustainability pathways. Hence, the consideration should be how organisations should react if certain changes happen in the market; and how its strategies will suffice to keep it agile and competitive.

Preparing for the Future

The one obvious way to deal with disruptive changes is to be future-ready as a business. Businesses ought to have business plans defining the strategic principles and roadmaps of the business. Having a flexible business plan will ensure that the organisation can adapt to changing market scenarios. As disruptive changes happen in the market, organisations having flexible business plans will be able to cope with them and evolve with the industry requirements. This will also help the organisation to acquire a competitive advantage over others operating in the market. Indeed, flexible business plans will also ensure that the company is be able to successfully operate in the market regardless of changing market trends.

Based on this, the most important thing to consider here is that change is coming; disrupting everything an organisation thought was stable about the business. But once business leaders accept this, they can move on to recognising and dealing with it. With mindset adjustments and remaining adaptive to new situations, their businesses will stay ahead of the competition and be seen as possessing adaptability intelligence.

Frank is the CEO and Strategic Partner of AQUABEV Investment and Discovery Consulting Group. He is an Executive Director and the Lead Coach in Leadership Development and best Business Management practices for Discovery Leadership Masterclass.


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