In times of great change, those with the foresight to adapt now will be the winners in the future. To remain competitive in tomorrow’s economy, today’s leaders must look at how their companies and industries will change over the next few years, and how they can position themselves to be ready to capitalize on those changes once they do occur. The future is now, and if you want to be ready when it arrives, these steps will help you get there.
Embrace digital disruption
The concept of disruption has pervaded business literature in recent years. Digital disruption refers to a new wave of technology that significantly alters an industry, market or sector. Many industries have been reshaped by digital disruption, including book publishing, retail and travel. Although not all businesses are susceptible to digital disruption, many will be affected—and fast—by technological advances in these industries. The better prepared you are, as a leader and business owner, to embrace change when it happens, the more likely you’ll see short-term disruptions translate into long-term success. Here’s how smart leaders are thinking about avoiding disruption while taking advantage of its benefits.
Look at new paradigms
The first step to leading in an era of innovation is to look at new paradigms. We all know that if we want things to stay exactly as they are, things will have to change—that’s what a paradigm shift means. Although history rarely repeats itself exactly, it does serve as a useful guide for how to deal with unforeseen circumstances. So, think about what worked in past paradigm shifts and how you might apply them today. For example, think about how one-way communication (like TV broadcasts) transitioned into two-way communication (like social media). Now consider where technology may be going next. What technologies aren’t out there yet? Perhaps there are ways you could use them to your advantage in your organization or industry.
Be more open to change
Sometimes in our quest to succeed, we become so obsessed with doing what’s worked for us in the past that we create rigid mental blocks around new ideas. To really lead effectively in a rapidly changing environment, you need to be open to change and able to accept it when something new might have a better outcome. Ask yourself why you think an idea won’t work—is it because of evidence or just habit? If so, it’s probably time to get rid of your excuses and try something new.
Know your customers better than they know themselves
The more you know about your customers, their challenges and aspirations, and what they will be looking for in a solution, the easier it will be to win business. Gathering data on your customers’ needs and behaviors can be time-consuming but it pays off in spades when you launch a new product or service offering. Make sure you have an easy way to capture customer feedback as your business grows; new products and services are often iterative improvements on existing ones.
Create data-driven strategies
Big data has made it easier than ever to develop and implement data-driven strategies. Analyzing data allows you to understand your customers better, which helps you make decisions based on facts, not assumptions. Take that data and create a plan for how you’ll act on what you learn from it. Will you create new services? Improve old ones? Make changes to how your business operates?
Harness technology to support human decision making
Technology has transformed every industry, offering new ways to organize, scale and deliver products and services that were unimaginable just a decade ago. However, for some organizations technology has not been about innovation; instead it’s been used to automate existing business processes without consideration of how that automation might influence key decisions. As a result, many of today’s leaders are struggling to manage their organizations in ways that offer both efficiency and flexibility while avoiding possible mistakes due to technological limitations.