Disruption is everywhere – the price of oil plummeting and taking businesses and economies with it; industries being displaced by technology; wildfires forcing the evacuation of whole cities; Brexit causing financial markets to imploding; and, more.
Preventing these calamities before they happen is the first and most preferred option.
It is an increasingly interconnected and complex world, so simply preventing a disruption has become a difficult, if not impossible, task. We live in a time of increased, economic and social volatility and that volatility has repercussions akin to throwing a large rock into a pond … the ripples are large and reach out to all areas.
It is essential for non-profit, for–profit and public sector organizations (and, for that matter, individuals) to become agile enough to face of the risks we know, but more importantly to manage the crises we can’t see coming and may not even be able to imagine.
Who could of imagined a modern Canadian city of 80,000 being evacuated or the Brexit referendum results causing an immediate 13% collapse of the UK Pound?
Here are my thoughts how all organizations must improve their ability to withstand disruption.
- Your employee’s livelihoods depend on you,
- Your shareholder’s or donor’s investment have been entrusted with you;
- Your clients and customers rely on you; and,
In short you, as the Leader, are responsible.
- Work on multiple time-cycles. It is singularly impossible to be strategic and operational at the same time. It may seem like the right move to go “all in” on a new strategy. But you are apt to miss that next big threat or opportunity. Great hockey players do not keep their eyes on the puck; they look forward to where they want the puck to go.
- Embrace a diversity of thought. Surround yourself with people who share your values, but with different thinking styles. Have your teams working towards the same goal, but bring and share their unique insights and ways of looking at problems.
- Invest in middle and frontline management. We live in a culture that lauds the ‘Type-A’ personality CEO, but in my experience, when things go wrong, it’s rarely the visionary CEO or Commander on the ground sorting it out. It’s usually people in the middle who determine an organization’s resilience and gets things done.
- New Brooms may sweep clean but make incremental changes In baseball home runs are exciting, but singles and double move you incrementally to winning the game.
- Efficiency and effective are two different words. The last 40 or 50 years of management theory has emphasized greater efficiency such as “just in time delivery.” But that may put us in a very risky position as single source suppliers or one employee holding critically important roles creates an extraordinarily fragile. It is harder, more expensive, and may seem inefficient to build redundancy into an organization– but in the event of disaster or disruption, it can make all the difference between survival and defeat.
And Most importantly
- Build trust when you don’t need it. There is a saying in Africa: ‘when the watering hole starts drying up, everyone drinking from it looks at everyone else a lot differently.’ When you need your people, investors and customers to trust you the most is not the time to build trust.
I am on the road and will be throughout 2016/17.
I may be speaking live near you this year. I’m being booked for AGMs, Conventions and Association gatherings; anywhere people who want to be better leaders gather and want to improve their leadership experiences.
If you are interested in me improving the leadership skills of your team, I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email to Steve@StevenArmstrong.ca and we can get the ball rolling.