‘How we react to these difficult times will determine our future. We have huge potential if only we realised it’.
No truer words, spoken by the Hon. Dr Mike Nahan MLA, Western Australia’s Treasurer, Minster for Energy and Minister for Multicultural Interests. This of course, doesn’t just apply to the changing landscape of the Australian economy. It applies to all markets, economies, businesses, industries and ideas. Every week there is a new media article focused on the sensationalisation of ‘insert theme of the week’, what “could be the next GFC trigger”.
As business leaders, we have a responsibility to stop looking behind us waiting for the next shake-down to happen and instead focus on the incredible economic opportunities we have before us.
The reality is we are dealing with markets that are shifting more frequently and quickly, where remaining competitive involves engaging audacious thinking and approaches.
The status quo has changed, where continuing traditional business models is simply not sustainable. Unfortunately, it takes what feels like being hit with a sledgehammer, for the burning platform of transformation to appear.
Innovation on rewind
Many of us think we are being innovative when often it is the same idea, business model and approach, dressed and polished with a few different words and services. Rewind, repeat, press play.
The problem is, when we are standing in the murky tunnel of challenging times, with not a lot of blue sky in sight, we have a habit of wanting to move out of it so quickly we head straight for what we know worked before, without connecting other pathways of opportunity. Meanwhile, we have completely missed the critical path to disruptive competitiveness and a sustainable future.
In business, whilst we can scenario plan and model macroeconomic trends, we know there is not always a silver bullet, but yet we’ve become so focused on having to know the certainties of a stable economy, before we take one step in the right direction.
By then, the first step is too late, as we wait to see what everyone else is doing and then frantically play catch up. Whereas companies that are focused on disruptive competitiveness, are already there at the forefront. Whilst we don’t know what is going to happen and instability is a challenge, we certainly do need to be ready when it does happen.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters
Uncomfortable. Challenging. Scary. Sometimes awkward. These messy conversations (backed with market data and technology) are where innovation, disruptive strategies and growth are created. To be truly different requires staring down that sometimes dark tunnel. To push the limits of what is possible means challenging conversations; is where great collaboration and idea building leads to disruptive strategies, growth and transformation.
Though, whenever something new comes our way that will change our world, it won’t be accepted easily. It is too different, it doesn’t relate to now, it is uncertain.
Historically, great audaciously different ideas are attacked with what I like to call ‘idea killers’ and portrayed negatively just as they gather momentum. We don’t need to look further than the negative portrayal of digital media when it was introduced in 2007, or the reaction to Uber and its disruptive impact on a traditional business model.
Why do we need to know this? Because resistance itself is feared, pushed down and thought of as a bad thing. Resistance needs to be invited into the process. Embracing it allows you and the organisation, create leaps and bounds in competitiveness and market opportunities.
Be fast, nimble and alert
We are dealing with markets that are shifting more frequently and quickly.
Whilst we are facing significant macroeconomic pressure globally, opportunities exist everywhere. It is how we engage the conversations that matter, go about exploring the external variables in the market and engage available technology platforms, that determine new and viable pathways.
We can no longer simply tick the boxes, we have to move outside the lines to be strategically disruptive. Remaining competitive involves engaging audacious thinking and approaches, where business models need to transform for growth and long-term sustainability.
The reasons why you did not adapt to the market never matters when everyone has moved onto the next good thing. Be fast, nimble and alert.