Rapid times require rapid change


Are the leaders of your organisations up to the challenges of change asks Steven and Chutisa Bowman

In the current environment, making decisions and taking action have become more complex for business leaders in all industries and in all markets. Clearly leaders need different skills to take their businesses into the future. To make decisions efficiently, quickly, and strategically leaders must unlock their leadership superpower by developing the ability of a Pragmatic Futurist. When leaders develop their pragmatic futurist capacity they increase their power to shape their futures, even in the most turbulent of times. They will be equipped to take advantage of all the new opportunities that rapid social and technological progresses are creating. Business leaders can incorporate the pragmatic futurist’s power into their everyday operational practices, and begin to lead from the edge of possibilities.

In the 21st century, the boundaries of business are not precisely defined, and the rules of the game are vague, ambiguous, and often fleeting. The pace of change and advancement is now so quick that entire professions, industries and occupations are changing faster than ever before. Everything is transient! The speed, complexity, and unpredictable nature of change in the global business environment can make people baffled and overwhelmed. These external changes are massive, sudden, rapid, and full of contradictory signals. Dealing with these changes requires nimbleness, agility, flexibility, the willingness to look at all possibilities and ability to respond in real time to shifting demand. Are the leaders of your organisations up to the challenges?

It’s undeniable that rapid times require rapid change. In a world in which things are changing so incredibly rapidly, leaders need to expand and strengthen their awareness to recognise what is really going on. They must keep up with fast-paced trends. They must cultivate an ability to be aware of future trends and how these trends may affect their business, rather than closing their eyes to forewarning indications and hoping that things don’t change too much.

Organisations that fail to acknowledge this unstoppable force of change will fail to thrive in the future environment. Failure to recognise trends or opportunities beyond an organisation’s primary area of business will result in missed opportunities and an ever-decreasing longevity of survival. These new times bring with them an array of opportunities and different possibilities. To thrive in the future environment, and to seize these new opportunities and possibilities, leaders must be willing to challenge traditional perceptions. Leaders need to be open to playing an entirely new game. To accomplish this, leaders must expand their awareness and formulate generative strategies for their business. They need to break out of business-as-usual models that dictate how they are supposed to function. They must let go of the old business boundaries that define how they operate.

Are you willing to see that there may be a way to generate something totally different in your business if you are willing to change the way you view things?

To cultivate an ability to be aware of future trends, and how these trends may affect your business, you must expand your awareness to be more perceptive to impending change and new opportunities. You can develop this ability by:

1. Cultivate an insatiable curiosity to life by starting to ask new questions about the world, and start to see bigger implications of events and choices. Be genuinely inquisitive and sincerely curious. Avoid desperately seeking the answer. Question everything. Never come to a conclusion. Answer every question with another question.

2. Be willing to challenge the convention of today. Look at your current situation and ask these empowering questions: What is happening currently? Could a current situation be changed or done differently? What else is possible? What if…?(fill in the blank). Practice looking at common situations and common problems in novel ways.

3. Constantly expose yourself to new experiences. Broaden the way that you scan your environment to look beyond industry and consider what is happening with resource availability, technology, demography and governments.  Ask yourself… What is this, what does it mean to me, what do I do with it? Place yourself in unfamiliar surroundings or in the midst of unusual or exotic experiences. Let go of your habitual mental routines. Learn to think differently about everyday things.

4. Be flexible, adaptable and spontaneous. Embrace change and be willing to step outside your comfort zone and preconceptions. Choose to be ever aware and mindful, ready to shift strategy and tactics as the situation requires. Be willing to look at what you can do that will generate different possibilities.

5. Be open to all possibility. Remain open to the new, the unfamiliar, and the unknown all around you. Become an avid reader of a broad range of information, news and updates from multiple disciplines. Always think global instead of local when thinking about the future. Look at the big picture and think long-term (go out 10, 20 even 50 years) and ask yourself: “What do I put in place now so if this was to occur, we are in good shape. How can I turn this to my advantage?”. BF

Chutisa & Steven Bowman are global business advisors.

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