Disruption is here to stay. It’s not a fad or a phase. Radical change is going to keep coming at us, and new ideas, new technologies, new regulations, new consumer desires, new competitive threats and more keep driving all of us to be better, faster and – perhaps above all – different from who we were yesterday in terms of our offer.
Any individual or organization who hopes to succeed in this VUCA world needs to understand, accept and act on a powerful new law firmly in place in today’s turbulent and global business environment called the Law of the 21st Century Business Jungle. This law states a profound truth to all those wise enough to listen: Quickly Adapt or Perish!
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The question quickly becomes: adapt in what way? In what direction? How do we get ahead of a coming shock wave, instead of getting swamped by it? We suggest first learning from the lesson of Mavericks. For those of you unfamiliar with Mavericks it is, a surfing location in Northern California, where the waves are large enough to attract big-wave surfers from around the world. Surfing mavericks is the sort of honor that gets you great cred with your surfing peers, and big sponsorship’s in the industry.
In peak season, waves at Mavericks can average between 25 and 80 feet. These waves are known as the thickest waves in the world. This makes them extra deadly if you crash and burn.
So, how do the world’s best big-wave surfers, all of whom live in different places around the world and benefit economically from sponsorships associated with surfing at Mavericks, know when the big ones are breaking? They listen intently to wave forecasts coming from special radios they carry with them wherever they go.
These forecasts originate from specially placed buoys out in the Pacific Ocean that send information to meteorologists regarding the size of the swells approaching the area. When the swells reach a specific size, meteorologists send a “Mavericks Alert” message to the big-wave surfer community. It is not uncommon for surfers from around the world to be already in their wet suits, positioned on their long boards and paddling toward a Maverick swell one mile offshore within 48 hours. For them, it’s time to disrupt.
So, does your organization have “buoys” in place (metaphorically speaking), too, to make sure you are rarely surprised when global shockwaves begin pounding on your doorstep? And, if they do, are they paying attention to them?
Because there is a second vital reinvention concept we need to identify. We suggest that even when organizations SHOULD know what is coming at them, that they don’t. We call an organizations inability to change is in large part due to organizational vision loss. With regard to the human eye, vision loss is the decreased ability to see to the point that things become distorted. Total blindness is the inability to see at all.
We’ve identified six metaphorical blindfolds that leaders and organizations often wear that create degrees of vision loss. These blindfolds are agnostic in nature, in that they are relevant to every geography, culture, and industry around the globe.
The Six Deadly Blindfolds
- Arrogance: An overbearing display of superiority, self-importance, and false pride.
- Negative Feedback Not Acknowledge Here: The inability to hear anything negative about a project, the company, or yourself. The inability to confront the brutal facts because it might get in the way of your agenda, deadlines, and reputation.
- Dismissing Competitors Successes: Refusing to accept a competitor’s success as valid and downplaying a competitor’s strategy and product innovations. Usually because of your own past successes.
- We Know What’s Best for the Customer: An inability to have empathy for customer frustrations and needs, and a lack of inquisitiveness to find out ways to better align to customers current and future desires.
- Believing Problems Don’t Exist: Being either completely blind to organizational and individual problems or dismissing them to protect oneself and the company.
- Avoiding the Unavoidable: Seeing the writing on the wall, but assuming it will go away in miraculous ways, and life and business will eventually return to normal with no change required on our part.
The term Blindfold seems appropriate because these six blindfolds are, in reality, self-imposed. They are put on quietly over time.
As a leader, how are you doing in paying attention to what is coming at you. And are you ensuring these six blindfolds are never put on you or your team so that they miss seeing what they really should know?