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BW Businessworld

The Disruptor Or Disrupted

Leadership in several companies are aware of changes that may be coming their way, requiring for them to transform.

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There is no better time to talk about it as now- or perhaps we have anyways all lived through it for so long, we probably are already sick of hearing it, feeling it, discussing it. Yes, the last year has been one of disruption- life, work, personal, professional, business, industry, what have you. Everything, and everyone stood disrupted. The only consolation perhaps we have all had is the universality of this wave of disruption. In other words, the feeling that I am not alone in it, and there are others who are facing the same.

So, whether we talked about managing our homes, or our office work, we knew everyone was dealing with the same issues in getting used to what seemed like a new normal. Businesses struggled- across industries, markets, and geographies. Yes, there is always a comfort in knowing you are not in it alone, and that there is someone else reeling under the same pressures when disruption happens.

Like every cloud has a silver lining, every time there is a disruption, there emerges a new avatar of ourselves, our lives and our businesses. That to me is the key behind riding the wave of disruption, or shall we say braving the storm that is always followed by sunshine. We see examples aplenty of how our lives have changed in these past few months. More hygienic and more self-sufficient, personally, while being more flexible, and discovering new ways to deal with our professions. New businesses, new business models- it is all happening even as we live through it all.

The issue that we as humans generally face is the lack of control one feels in the face of disruptions. If I viewed this with an example of (say) an individual in a professional setting. He or she may have mulled over the idea of trying something new, changing industries, working in a different environment or some other form of change in his or her profession. However, even before the said person took the plunge in pursuing the mind’s curiosity, he got laid off! A significant disruption for anyone who was not prepared for it, it is when the individual finally decides to explore the unknown which he had so far only ruminated upon. Unhappy, dissatisfied, it takes a while for someone in this position to move on into newer pastures.

Why just individuals, businesses face the same. The more you are in control of driving a change, the higher the chance you feel confident in dealing with what comes your way. When companies are compelled by regulation to make change happen, they have a higher degree of resentment towards it, rather than if their assessment of their markets and customers is what drives them towards making the requisite changes. The results are the same either ways, its the level of confidence with which we don upon the mantle of making it happen. The more we are informed, the higher the likelihood of disruption being an enabler of inflexion in our trajectories rather than a disruption to our livelihoods. Better information allows for better preparedness.

Leadership in several companies are aware of changes that may be coming their way, requiring for them to transform. It is the winners who recognize whether the current organization has it in them, to drive ahead and disrupt themselves. Whether via partnerships or with in-house teams, such companies ensure they are ahead of the tidal changes. In fact, in several cases, these are the companies which make happen the disruption- they are not the ones who brave the storm that comes their way, they are the storm-makers. They are the disruptors. Whether they emerge winners or not of course depends upon their abilities to take advantage of what they set in motion. In fact, several new ones get an opportunity to ride the wave and take advantage of the sudden drop in entry barriers as incumbents struggle to keep up with the changes.

For those without the confidence of being the disruptors, being informed and being prepared is the only way out. However, despite best efforts, one may still not emerge a winner. A big part of the issue lies with the resistance in embracing the disruption. The more we resist, the higher the likelihood that our energies are not focused on braving the storm.

Whether as individuals or as businesses, we must view disruptions as a way of life. It is the only way we grow, it is the only way we see a better version of ourselves. It is our opportunity to prove our mettle. Several of us love to live in our comfort zones for as long as we can. It is what stagnates us, disabling any glimmer of hope of exploring what more it is we have in us as potential. Yes, there is a risk involved, but when did risk aversion ever lead to returns.

Viewing organizations as groups of humans, the analogy stated above applies. For organizations looking to see a better avatar of themselves, there is no other way but to drive through the storm of disruptions with a positive mindset of one who has it in them to exploit it, rather than one who expects to be flattened out in the aftermath of it. It is for the leadership to instil the confidence in teams, to move the organization to a better version of itself. Whether one does it on one’s own or is forced to deal with it, is a choice that needs to be made.

The followership of the disruptor being always higher than those who are disrupted. The coin always with two sides- be the one to drive the change or be driven by the change. It’s a choice we need to make. It is what enables us to be in control- or perhaps, be controlled!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Businesses leadership disruption Organizations companies

Bhavana Bindra

A graduate of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore, Bhavana joined the corporate world starting with Consulting at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), followed by almost 13 years in the Manufacturing & Engineering sector with the US MNC Cummins India Limited. Setting up and running businesses with expertise in the areas of leadership, strategic thinking, sales and marketing, Bhavana believes learning is continuous and experiments worth the time spent. This explains explaining her stint at a start-up in the Data analytics space, as well as her last role in the Chemicals industry as the Managing Director of a Dutch company in India.

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