Why Digital Disruption Leaders Need to Revisit Traditional Tenets

Branding and innovation expert Allen Adamson, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Metaforce, explains how digital disruptors can often feel immune to threats of staleness – but that confidence can prove deadly if leaders don’t embrace certain essential elements as their businesses mature

To stay relevant, businesses must indisputably know why they matter to their customers. That said, maintaining relevance in a world that’s changing so very fast is very challenging. The ability to keep up with what matters to people is being significantly challenged by the accelerating pace of change – and new ways of doing things – that are emerging with every passing day.

Digital disruptors can often feel immune to threats of staleness just by virtue of their role as the new kid on the block. But, that confidence can prove deadly if leaders don’t embrace certain essential elements as their businesses mature. Their newness doesn’t inoculate them against irrelevance that looms around the corner; rather, it is just part of a broader scenario that must be taken into consideration relative to shifting ahead.

Businesses that possess the human capital with the characteristics required to course correct on the fly are those that will be even more likely to succeed. In the research for our book, Shift Ahead: How the Best Companies Stay Relevant in a Fast-Changing World, my co-author, Joel Steckel, and I interviewed more than 100 executives and experts who lived through change, and who led the charge shifting their companies ahead of marketplace changes, before it was too late. As the result of our many conversations with senior management across a broad spectrum of organizations, we determined that there are three primary characteristics of leadership necessary to help an organization shift ahead of change successfully.

1. Peripheral Vision

What is required is a deep understanding of customers, their problems, how their problems can be solved, and how technological advances enable alternate solutions. Peripheral vision is seeing a broader landscape, seeing the context, seeing both the bigger picture and the details.

2. The ability to see and seize

It’s one thing to be able to see and sense changes in the road ahead and in the broader landscape. It’s another to have the wherewithal to seize on the opportunities they portend.

3. The understanding that “Success is never final”

These aren’t my words – the quote originated from Bill Marriot, who credited Winston Churchill. The idea is that no matter the organization, whether public or private, for profit or not, there will always be more needs to meet.

Whether your business – disruptive or not – will still be in business five years from now is, of course, dependent on many things. If your business is led by someone who possesses the above three characteristics, based on our research, we’d say you’ll be able to hang tough.

digital disruptors
enterprise leadership
human capital management
peripheral vision
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