Rapid times re­quire rapid change

Are the lead­ers of your or­gan­i­sa­tions up to the chal­lenges of change asks Steven and Chutisa Bow­man?

Business First - - CONTENTS - By Steven and Chutisa Bow­man

In the cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment, mak­ing de­ci­sions and tak­ing ac­tion have be­come more com­plex for busi­ness lead­ers in all in­dus­tries and in all mar­kets. Clearly lead­ers need dif­fer­ent skills to take their businesses into the fu­ture. To make de­ci­sions ef­fi­ciently, quickly, and strate­gi­cally lead­ers must un­lock their lead­er­ship su­per­power by de­vel­op­ing the abil­ity of a Prag­matic Fu­tur­ist. When lead­ers de­velop their prag­matic fu­tur­ist ca­pac­ity they in­crease their power to shape their fu­tures, even in the most tur­bu­lent of times. They will be equipped to take ad­van­tage of all the new op­por­tu­ni­ties that rapid so­cial and tech­no­log­i­cal pro­gresses are cre­at­ing. Busi­ness lead­ers can in­cor­po­rate the prag­matic fu­tur­ist’s power into their ev­ery­day op­er­a­tional prac­tices, and be­gin to lead from the edge of pos­si­bil­i­ties.

In the 21st century, the bound­aries of busi­ness are not pre­cisely de­fined, and the rules of the game are vague, am­bigu­ous, and of­ten fleet­ing. The pace of change and ad­vance­ment is now so quick that en­tire pro­fes­sions, in­dus­tries and oc­cu­pa­tions are chang­ing faster than ever be­fore. Ev­ery­thing is tran­sient! The speed, com­plex­ity, and un­pre­dictable na­ture of change in the global busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment can make people baf­fled and overwhelmed. These ex­ter­nal changes are mas­sive, sud­den, rapid, and full of con­tra­dic­tory sig­nals. Deal­ing with these changes re­quires nim­ble­ness, agility, flex­i­bil­ity, the will­ing­ness to look at all pos­si­bil­i­ties and abil­ity to re­spond in real time to shift­ing de­mand. Are the lead­ers of your or­gan­i­sa­tions up to the chal­lenges?

It’s un­de­ni­able that rapid times re­quire rapid change. In a world in which things are chang­ing so in­cred­i­bly rapidly, lead­ers need to ex­pand and strengthen their aware­ness to recog­nise what is re­ally go­ing on. They must keep up with fast-paced trends. They must cul­ti­vate an abil­ity to be aware of fu­ture trends and how these trends may af­fect their busi­ness, rather than clos­ing their eyes to fore­warn­ing in­di­ca­tions and hop­ing that things don’t change too much.

Or­gan­i­sa­tions that fail to ac­knowl­edge this un­stop­pable force of change will fail to thrive in the fu­ture en­vi­ron­ment. Fail­ure to recog­nise trends or op­por­tu­ni­ties be­yond an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s pri­mary area of busi­ness will re­sult in missed op­por­tu­ni­ties and an ever-de­creas­ing longevity of sur­vival. These new times bring with them an ar­ray of op­por­tu­ni­ties and dif­fer­ent pos­si­bil­i­ties. To thrive in the fu­ture en­vi­ron­ment, and to seize these new op­por­tu­ni­ties and pos­si­bil­i­ties, lead­ers must be will­ing to chal­lenge tra­di­tional per­cep­tions. Lead­ers need to be open to play­ing an en­tirely new game. To ac­com­plish this, lead­ers must ex­pand their aware­ness and for­mu­late gen­er­a­tive strate­gies for their busi­ness. They need to break out of busi­ness-as-usual mod­els that dic­tate how they are sup­posed to func­tion. They must let go of the old busi­ness bound­aries that de­fine how they op­er­ate.

Are you will­ing to see that there may be a way to gen­er­ate some­thing to­tally dif­fer­ent in your busi­ness if you are will­ing to change the way you view things?

To cul­ti­vate an abil­ity to be aware of fu­ture trends, and how these trends may af­fect your busi­ness, you must ex­pand your aware­ness to be more per­cep­tive to im­pend­ing change and new op­por­tu­ni­ties. You can de­velop this abil­ity by:

1 Cul­ti­vate an in­sa­tiable cu­rios­ity to life by start­ing to ask new ques­tions about the world, and start to see big­ger im­pli­ca­tions of events and choices. Be gen­uinely in­quis­i­tive and sincerely cu­ri­ous. Avoid des­per­ately seek­ing the an­swer. Ques­tion ev­ery­thing. Never come to a con­clu­sion. An­swer ev­ery ques­tion with an­other ques­tion.

2 Be will­ing to chal­lenge the con­ven­tion of to­day. Look at your cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and ask these em­pow­er­ing ques­tions: What is hap­pen­ing cur­rently? Could a cur­rent sit­u­a­tion be changed or done dif­fer­ently? What else is pos­si­ble? What if…? (fill in the blank). Prac­tice look­ing at com­mon sit­u­a­tions and com­mon prob­lems in novel ways.

3 Con­stantly ex­pose yourself to new ex­pe­ri­ences. Broaden the way that you scan your en­vi­ron­ment to look be­yond in­dus­try and con­sider what is hap­pen­ing with re­source avail­abil­ity, tech­nol­ogy, de­mog­ra­phy and gov­ern­ments. Ask yourself… What is this, what does it mean to me, what do I do with it? Place yourself in un­fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings or in the midst of un­usual or ex­otic ex­pe­ri­ences. Let go of your ha­bit­ual men­tal rou­tines. Learn to think dif­fer­ently about ev­ery­day things.

4 Be flex­i­ble, adapt­able and spon­ta­neous. Em­brace change and be will­ing to step out­side your com­fort zone and pre­con­cep­tions. Choose to be ever aware and mind­ful, ready to shift strat­egy and tac­tics as the sit­u­a­tion re­quires. Be will­ing to look at what you can do that will gen­er­ate dif­fer­ent pos­si­bil­i­ties.

5 Be open to all pos­si­bil­ity. Re­main open to the new, the un­fa­mil­iar, and the un­known all around you. Be­come an avid reader of a broad range of in­for­ma­tion, news and up­dates from mul­ti­ple dis­ci­plines. Al­ways think global in­stead of lo­cal when think­ing about the fu­ture. Look at the big pic­ture and think long-term (go out 10, 20 even 50 years) and ask yourself: “What do I put in place now so if this was to oc­cur, we are in good shape. How can I turn this to my ad­van­tage?”.

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