Within our interview series, we had a pleasure of talking to Shane Cragun, co-author of Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption with Kate Sweetman. We discussed market trends and challenges of keeping track with the disruptive practices.
Thank you very much for your time. Our monthly theme deals with the latest trends in the industry and relevant CX literature, and I believe we can cover both topics, given the fact you recently published the book. For a start, tell us more about it.
Shane: The Age of Disruption—today’s disruptive, tumultuous, and ever-changing global business environment—shows no signs of slowing. As authors, we believe it is time for a wake-up call to those hoping to thrive in the 21st century. Reinvention is the first business book to propose a simple algorithm, common principles, and set of tools that apply to both individuals and organizations facing disruptive and radical change.
The ability to pivot quickly, profoundly, and effectively might be the most important core competency individuals and organizations must attain in order to prosper in the new economy. And it isn’t enough to able to change when you have to; you must change before you have to, in proactive ways that allow your organization to leverage incoming global shockwaves to boost and accelerate performance.
In our book, Kate and I try to use contemporary examples to drive important points home. Key strategies are couched in metaphors to create visual maps that will help the reader implement their new learnings at the moment of need. The stories and case studies are compelling, eclectic, and global, and take the reader beyond just the world of business. Reinvention includes chapter insights written by six global experts from six different geographical business regions around the globe.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell which new innovation, phenomenon or advancement on the market is truly disruptive. How can one recognize what will be game changing in a sea of new trends and technologies?
Shane: Huge disruptions are like rogue waves at the beach that hit you hard and with great surprise. And then the tumbling and disorientations begins. We call these global shockwaves. There are also smaller ripples that might pass through a certain industry, market, or geographic region. There are two strategies to use to help organizational leaders “recognize what disruptions are game changing:”
First, it is important to place buoys our in your competitive ocean so that you are rarely surprised when powerful shockwaves begin pounding on your shore? Great organizations and highly adaptive professionals seem to be better at predicting and understanding incoming changes than others.
Second, highly adaptive leaders are voracious readers and have a sense of the inevitable approaching. By the time the shockwaves manifest themselves at full impact, these self-educated professionals have great insight regarding the implications of the approaching shockwave and have a sense of what strategies they might employ for leveraging it.
Your book covers stories and cases from around the globe over the past 100 years, on a vast range of topics. Has the idea of disruption changed drastically within that period?
Shane: Our research suggests it was in 1981 that the world became aware that the global economy was beginning to transition to something never experienced before. It was the first big global disruption post WWII. This was when Toyota, Honda, and Datsun (the Japanese Big Three) sold more cars in the United States than analysts had predicted; it was also the first year they sold their cars from their own dealerships. This was a game-changing event on a global scale that had never been seen before by global leaders and professionals.
Between 1981 and today we’ve identified 20 global shockwaves that have shaped our current business environment. However, if you go back in time exactly 100 years (1916), then we most definitely find two massive global disruptions: 1) Industrial Revolution; and 2) Mass Implementation of the Assembly Line. The world was never the same after that.
So…what is the trend over the past 100 years
- Great change from 1916-1945
- Stable and calm waters from 1945-1981
- Great change from 1981-Present
Can you point out to some ongoing trends that show the potential of being disruptive?
Shane: Here are seven that the Huffington Post published a few weeks ago that would radically change they way we live if commercialized:
- Crispr: Crispr is a gene editing technology that allows for the changing out, editing in, and altering of genes. It will end certain diseases, feed the planet, alter health care and human evolution, and even eliminate birth defects if commercialized.
- SynBio: If engineering and biology got married they would be called SynBio (short for synthetic biology). It is the construction of new biological parts, devices, systems, and the re-design of existing biological systems.
- Blockchain: Blockchain is the technology behind Bit Coin, the leading crypto-currency that might be the future of money. Blockchain could help in managing digital currencies and even larger economic planetary ecosystems.
- IoT: When “things” wake up and become smart – aware of each other with the ability to communicate – we will have a different world. We may have 20 billion connected things by 2020. Smart things can monitor, sense, protect, transact, communicate, and share info that could enhance the quality of our lives (like smart cities).
- Open AI: Artificial Intelligence is so powerful in its potential that Elon Musk has mused on its good, bad, and ugly possibilities. Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, IBM, and Google have invested approximately $10 Billion on AI R&D.
- Big Data Analytics: The data tsunami of video, social media, text, pictures, and geospatial information is threatening to overwhelm humans, let alone machines. Big data science might transform every industry as the rise of the “predictive organization” becomes reality.
- Planet GeoEngineering: This science will address rising ocean levels, droughts, pollution increases, and abrupt climate change. Planet GeoEngineering could be more vital to the future of humanity then any other innovation
How fast does a company has to react to the changes on the market? Is there a single advice that can help diverse businesses keep the track with their fast pace?
Shane: We begin our book with the law that will be in play in the 21st century:
“For organizations to win today and in the future, the speed of internal change must be greater than the speed of external change.”
By definition, if you aren’t changing as fast or faster than the external disruptions, you are falling behind.
My single piece of advice would be to understand and live this principle and put measures in place to monitor progress.
Shane Cragun, a founding partner at SweetmanCragun
Shane Craguns is co-founder of SweetmanCragun, a global management consulting, training, and coaching firm, and co-author of Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption with Kate Sweetman. His passion is creating high performance excellence at the individual, team, organizational, and societal levels around the globe. Cragun has worked as an internal change agent within a Fortune 500 High Tech Firm, a line executive at FranklinCovey, and a global external management consultant. His projects have received prizes in the areas of leadership and change. He recently co-authored the Employee Engagement Mindset published by McGraw-Hill, has presented a TEDx talk in Silicon Valley, spoken at business conferences worldwide, and was featured in Open Computing magazine.
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