Wednesday, April 19, 2023

10 Tips For Continuously Disrupting Your Own Business

Disrupt-your-businessAs a business owner or key professional, your challenge is to keep up with and stay ahead of the rapid market change today, or lose your livelihood tomorrow. In my business consulting activities, I often get asked for help in looking ahead, and I well understand your primary day-to-day focus on setting repeatable processes and creating a stable environment for existing team members.

Looking ahead and implementing predicted changes can be very disruptive to the business, so I’ve never had any magic solutions to recommend. Thus I was impressed with the practical rules suggested to facilitate anticipatory changes to survive in business today, in a new book “Secrets of Next Level Entrepreneurs,” by Alex Brueckmann, an experienced executive consultant:

  1. Create change by inspiring people to follow. It’s no longer a top-down or command-and-control world. I recommend that you position yourself as a guide and steward of the grand vision. You must inspire people on your team to execute plans that are in the company’s best interest, and nurture all relationships that provide positive support.

  2. Start early to envision the future landscape. Ask questions of your customers, team members, and experts now to determine what the landscape will look like in the next five or ten years. Plan for multiple possible outcomes and be prepared to shift and ride the wave as it happens, instead of struggling for air after the wave passes over your head.

  3. Strive to recognize power shifts in society. Use your connections and employees viewing and participating in various social platforms to see firsthand how power is shifting and status quo is changing. Recognize the natural resistance to embracing disruption and encourage a comfortable transition for your management team and team members.

  4. Build openness and trust in the organization. Trust is earned by transparency and active listening to team members, leading to more accountability and a positive culture for everyone. Listen to and validate concerns, and then take actionable measures quickly. Addressing problems as they come up fosters more trust than you might think.

  5. Embrace healthy conflict to disrupt the status quo. There will be conflict and disagreement – it goes hand in hand with change and disruption. I recommend that you approach conflict with the belief that everyone has the best of intentions at heart, rather than avoidance and resentment. Be prepared to give feedback directly without emotion.

  6. Develop leadership that owns their decisions. It all begins with shifting the mindset of decision-makers from gatekeepers to facilitators and devising a structure and clear guidelines that help define the limits. Your role is to make sure there is support in place to encourage and validate the decision making role as employees continue to develop it.

  7. Overcome the inherent resistance to change. Team members naturally resist change because they don’t know how to deal with uncertainty. To mitigate this fear, you must set goals and reward employees when they shift their mindset. Don’t let them feel stressed out or a failure if they don’t always hit the goals. Make it a positive learning experience.

  8. Leverage digital technology to grow relationships. Use social media, video, and other channels to build new relationships with customers and other constituents. Digital technology today can be used to hone your ability to listen, care, share, and be more engaging. Share more stories that will align people around common goals and objectives.

  9. Replace perfection with focus on being excellent. Excellence is the opposite of perfection because zero errors mean you and the team are not learning. Try setting impossible deadlines to spur action, and build the confidence in your teams to make decisions without all the data in hand. Time is of the essence in this fast-moving world.

  10. Find balance by imposing discipline around change. Disruptive change always feels chaotic and exhausting, so discipline in the process helps people feel more comfortable. Amazon has a process for proposing a change requiring a one-page press release from the future, combined with a six-page FAQ document. People can touch and feel it.

I believe these recommendations apply equally well to mature businesses, as well as startups. Both need to keep their core business strong, while giving everyone clarity and expectations of their roles in getting to the end goal of constant alignment with customers today, as well as staying one step ahead of competitors. Perhaps it’s time to take a hard look at your own priorities.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on on 04/05/2023 ***



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