Disrupt Less, Innovate More

 8th January 2019 by gihan

I hear a lot of talk about leaders talking about their business or industry being disrupted, and they want to know how to deal with all this “disruption”.

I think that’s the wrong way to look at it.

Two decades ago, Harvard scholar Clayton (“Clay”) Christensen wrote the book “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, in which he coined the term “disruptive innovation”. Over time, many people have abbreviated this to just “disruption”, but that’s dangerous!

His original idea was about innovation, not disruption. But we’ve distorted it so much that few people think of innovation when they hear the word “disruption”.

Disruption is when it happens to you, innovation is when you do it yourself.

Innovation is all about change. Yes, it’s about disruption, but with you in control. In other words, it’s disruption by design.

You might have heard this joke:

The Dalai Lama orders a burger from a stand, hands over $20, and gets his burger but no change.

“What about my change?” he asks the vendor.

The vendor replies, “Change comes from within.”

Innovate from the inside out. You disrupt yourself, but in a positive, progressive way that positions you better for the change happening in the world.

So, as we head into 2019, instead of thinking about disruption, think about innovation and change.

The world has changed – but have you?

Broadly, most organisations go through three phases.

First, you see a problem and notice many people with that problem. In this “strive” phase, you build an organisation with the skills and resources to solve that problem.

Stage 1: Strive

In the next phase, the world has moved on, and customers face an entirely new set of problems. They expect a completely different set of solutions, and your organisation is no longer relevant. You haven’t become “dumber”, but you have become less relevant. You’re doing all you can just to “survive”.

Stage 2: Survive

If you do the things you’ve always done, your organisation won’t survive. The organisations that thrive now solve a different set of problems. It doesn’t matter whether these organisations even existed in the “old” world. In fact, in many cases, it’s an advantage if they didn’t, because they aren’t carrying all the extra baggage that comes with solving the problems of the past.

Stage 3: Thrive

In the past, when the world wasn’t changing as quickly, you had time to adapt, adjust, and evolve your organisation to solve new problems. Now, you need to move much faster – and disrupt yourself or be disrupted.

That means you need new skills.

You can’t solve new problems with the same skill set you used to solve old problems. You need new skills, and it’s not difficult to guess what kind of skills you need: collaboration, diversity, independence, flexibility, and so on.

The good news is there are smart, talented people out there with those skills.

The bad news is they have a choice of work.

So, the question is: Do they want to work for you?

That puts the responsibility for success back on you. If you want to thrive, create a better workplace so you can attract – and keep – the best people!

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Flying cars are coming sooner than you think

 3rd January 2019 by gihan

We all watched The Jetsons and either laughed at or desperately wanted its futuristic flying cars. Now, more than 50 years on, the idea may soon be a reality.

I was recently interviewed on this topic by journalist Adrianna Zappavigna.

We talked about drones, air taxis, flying cars, and even a real-life Iron Man suit.

Read the full article here.

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Seven Ways The World Is Getting Better

 31st December 2018 by gihan

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Four Futuristic Things That Are Just Around The Corner

 20th December 2018 by gihan

As we get close to the end of another year, you might wonder what new things could change everyday life in 2019. Flying cars and true artificial intelligence are still a long way in the future, but some other things might be closer than you think.

Here are four things that are just around the corner:

1. Driverless cars – coming soon to a road near you.

Everybody’s been talking about our driverless future, but it’s finally becoming real.

In the next few weeks, Google will release its first self-driving taxi service to the public. Not on private roads, not in a controlled environment, and not with an engineer with a big red Panic button ready to take over in an emergency.

After almost a decade and over 10 million miles of testing, Google’s self-driving car company Waymo will be offering a self-driving taxi service in Phoenix, Arizona. The initial offering will only be to a few hundred volunteers who have already been part of earlier tests.

It will be some time before this is available to everybody. But one thing’s for sure – there’s no turning back now!

Photo: Grendelkhan

2. Walk out of a shop without the checkout queue.

We’re moving fast to a cashless society, and with mobile payment systems on your phone or watch, we’re even moving away from credit cards.

But Amazon is taking this a step further with its Amazon Go shops, where you can just walk out of the shop without paying. No queue, no self-service machine, and no security guard chasing you out into the carpark!

Amazon uses facial recognition and AI to identify you when you walk in to the shop, an app on your phone knows what you put into your shopping trolley, and when you walk out, your Amazon account gets automatically charged.

3. Parlez-vous anglais? No? No problem!

Did you hear about the Coke vending machine in Auckland International Airport that greeted arriving visitors with a friendly, “Hello, death”!

A sign on the vending machine read, “Kia ora, mate”, which is supposed to be a quirky combination of Maori and English. But in Maori, the word “mate” means “death”.

How can you avoid this problem when you’re travelling to a country where you don’t speak the language? Easy – bring your translator with you. But it’s not a person – it’s an app on your phone or a device you stick in your ear.

When speaking to a local, you say something out loud and your phone immediately repeats it in the other language. When the other person responds, again your phone instantly translates it into English for you.

4. Finally get a good night’s sleep.

It might be hard to believe, but a good night’s sleep can be one of your healthiest habits. It’s nature’s equivalent of, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”.

The Australian Sleep Foundation says a lack of sleep affects mood, memory, your IQ, and can lead to health issues like obesity, diabetes, and depression. That’s why companies are scrambling to help us sleep better.

The quickest technology you can get is an app on your phone, which uses your phone’s technology to track your body at night.

You can also use wearable trackers like Fitbit, Garmin, or Apple Watch, which will give you more accurate monitoring.

If you don’t like wearing a watch at night, you can buy sleep-tracking devices like Apple’s Beddit product, which is a strip of material you slip under the sheet to do the tracking for you.


“I wish I hadn’t said that!”

“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

– attributed to a Danish politician

Futurists don’t always get it right (I know, I know, it’s hard to believe!). Here are some expert predictions from the past that turned out to be spectacularly wrong.

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Are You Building The Best Workplace on Earth?

 18th December 2018 by gihan

There’s a war for talent, and the best people can choose where they work. Are you creating the sort of workplace that will attract and keep them?

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The Best Workplace on Earth

 13th December 2018 by gihan

We all know the workplace of the future will be very different from the workplace of today. It’s more than just technology and automation – it’s about the environment you create for attracting the smart, talented, savvy people with the skills we need for future-proofing our organisations. The bad news is that those “stars” are in demand, and can choose where they work. Are YOU providing the sort of workplace that will attract and keep them?

In the latest episode of my Fit for the Future podcast, I explore the five things that the top performers say make up the best workplace on earth:

  • Diversity: “Let me be myself”
  • Authority: “Help me actually get stuff done”
  • Talent: “Discover and magnify my strengths”
  • Meaning: “Make my work meaningful”
  • Judgement: “Don’t get in the way with stupid rules”

Listen To the Episode

More Resources

The Fit for the Future Podcast brings you regular ideas, interviews and insights about how you, your teams and your organisation can become fit for the future.

More ways to engage with me:

Which Industries Are Most At Risk of Disruption? My Interview on Your Money

 11th December 2018 by gihan

A few weeks ago, Melbourne taxi drivers launched a class action lawsuit for $500 million against Uber, claiming that it was operating illegally in its early days from 2014, and had caused significant losses to the established taxi industry.

This is a copycat lawsuit, with these taxi drivers jumping on the Uber-bashing bandwagon, following a similar £500 million lawsuit from London taxi drivers and a C$400 million lawsuit from taxi drivers in Toronto.

I was recently interviewed on this topic – and the broader question of other industries at risk of disruption – by Brooke Corte of Sky Business News on the “Your Money” program. Watch the interview here (available to Australian viewers only):

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The Single Best Change Management Technique Most Leaders Skip

 6th December 2018 by gihan

A few days ago, I was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, presenting to a group of leaders in an organisation that’s going through a lot of change. Together with Dr. Shaun Ridley (from the Australian Insitute of Management WA) and Dr. Jenny Brockis (an expert in brain fitness and future thinking), we talked about the new rules for high performance and smarter thinking.

In the panel session at the end of the day, one of the participants asked me this question:

“How do we motivate our people to be open and willing to change?”

It’s a common question leaders ask, because they know it’s impossible to make progress unless their team “buys in” to the change as well. So of course they want to find ways to motivate their team.

But that’s not quite right.

You don’t need to push, shove, motivate and cajole your team to change! You don’t have to be the powerful leader who drags your team – some of them kicking and screaming – into the future.

My response to this participant was along these lines:

“Your ‘people’ are not children. They are smart, savvy, intelligent people who successfully navigate change and growth in other areas of their lives: raising children, making a home for their families, staying healthy, and managing their money. They are already ‘change experts’! So tell them what’s going on, give them the authority to take action themselves, and trust them to do what they need to do.”

Too simplistic? Not really!

Of course, if you take this to the extreme, you might be throwing people in at the deep end, and that’s not fair. But most leaders err too far in the other direction, and don’t give people enough authority.

All successful leaders and managers know how important is to delegate, but many of them still do it in a way that doesn’t empower their team members.

The old process for successful delegation is to ask a team member to do something, and then create a series of check-ins along the way to ensure success. In particular, if something unexpected happened, the team member would alert their manager immediately, so the manager could decide how to deal with it.

This is the “push information to authority” model, where any new information is pushed up the chain to a more senior person, who has the authority to decide how to deal with that information.

The problem is the team member never truly becomes empowered. Even if they learn from their manager, they only learn from observation, and never have to make those decisions themselves.

Turn the ship around.

This is the situation that faced David Marquet, commander of a U.S. Navy submarine. His book Turn The Ship Around tells his own true story of building empowerment in his crew. They were highly-skilled, elite performers, and yet they had been brought up in the Navy to obey orders and delegate upwards whenever they faced an unfamiliar situation.

Marquet realised that to truly empower his team, he needed to reverse the old delegation process that forces people to ask a higher authority in the face of new information.

His new approach was: Push authority to information. In other words, when new information becomes available, the people have the authority to act on that information.

By pushing the authority to act to the people who have the information, you empower your team, remove yourself as a bottleneck, and create a more nimble organisation.

Thinking Ahead

To start making the shift to this new style of delegation, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do people have to push information to you for a decision? How can you give them more authority in the future?
  2. What rules in your organisation – either implicit in the culture or explicit in the systems – currently get in the way of pushing authority to information?
  3. If you were to start pushing more authority to your team members, who could you start with?

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