Home Thinking Aloud Bracing For Impact – 4 Strategies For Leveraging The Next Global Disruption

Bracing For Impact – 4 Strategies For Leveraging The Next Global Disruption


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by Shane Cragun and Kate Sweetman, coauthors of “Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption

We suggest the only constant going forward is change. We’re talking massive, disruptive, and tumultuous change. It is beginning to look like radical change will be THE absolute going forward in the 21st century.

Disruption is everywhere. MIT’s Media Lab announced that it has created a 4-D television that allows viewers to reach through the screen and touch the objects they are viewing. Google recently declared that they desire to be THE operating system for your life.

We think a version of Moore’s Law will soon apply to the speed of change. Gordon Moore was an Intel cofounder, and, in 1965 predicted that the number of transistors on integrated circuits would double each year. He has been right.

The speed of change in the global business environment might eventually reach a point where it also doubles every year. This VUCA world (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) we live in seems to be heating up.

We’ve identified 20 global shockwaves (massive disruptions) that have occurred since WWII and created a widespread sense of shock and awe among global leaders. These shockwaves have been economic challenges, geo-political pressures, new technologies, and stiff global competition.

What can leaders do to thrive in this Age of Disruption and leverage incoming global shockwaves to their benefit? We propose three powerful strategies:

1. Place Buoys in Your Competitive Ocean.

There are only two weeks a year when the waves at Mavericks are large enough to attract big-wave surfers. These waves can average between 25-60 feet during peak season.

How do the world’s best big-wave surfers know when the big ones are breaking? They listen intently to wave forecasts coming from special radios they carry with them at all times. Buoys out in the Pacific Ocean send data to meteorologists regarding the size of the swells approaching Northern California. When the swells reach a specific size, meteorologists send out a Mavericks Alert. 

Market champions are rarely stunned by incoming Mavericks-size shockwaves. They see disruption as an opportunity, not a threat. They are voracious readers and have a sense of the expected. These reinvention champions quickly understand the implications of the approaching disruption and begin formulating strategies for leveraging it.

2. Master Reinvention Agility.

Judo is the only martial art form that is defensive in its attack. The premise of judo is to use the force of the attacker to your advantage.

Judo originated in 1880, when its founder, Jigorō Kanō, was motivated to stop bullying at a local school. He knew jujitsu, but wanted something more effective that allowed a smaller force to defeat a larger force. Judo was the result.

Central to Kanō’s vision was a powerful principle: “Resisting a more powerful opponent will result in your defeat, whilst adjusting to and evading your opponent’s attack will cause him to lose his balance, his power will be reduced, and you will defeat him.”

Leaders should address incoming shockwaves as judokas, or judo practitioners, leveraging the force of the incoming disruption in a way that actually strengthens their position. We call this strategy Reinvention Agility.

3. Be the Disruptor, Not the Disrupted.

The Age of Disruption is forcing all of us to make clear choices as to whether we are Disruptors or the Disrupted. There is no middle ground. Would you rather be Amazon (the disruptor) or Retail Stores (the disrupted) in 2017? No question going on the offensive in the Age of Disruption can be a powerful strategy of survival and growth.

There are four strategies that leaders can master in order to become more proficient as disruptors with a great ability to ride out disruption:

  • Create Felt Need (“Know Why”): Ensuring everyone feels a strong need to change.
  • Rapid Learning (“Know What”): Ensuring people have the ability to learn at or above the speed of change.
  • Virtually Connected (“Know Who”): Ensure people have relationships with influencers willing to open important doors when the need arises.
  • Gameplan Development (“Know How”): Ensuring people have ability to create career scenarios that align to passions, talents, and economic needs…with development plans.

Now is the time to brace and prepare for future global shockwaves. They are coming. Most are already in the pipeline and locked and loaded.

Having a mind-set of let’s disrupt, rather than be disrupted is a good start. But implementing the four strategies will significantly increase your confidence and ability to master change in today’s tumultuous age of disruption.


Shane Cragun and Kate Sweetman are Founding Principals at SweetmanCragun, the world’s leading leadership development firm providing clients high-performance solutions specifically tailored for today’s Age of Disruption. They are also co-authors of the bestselling book, “Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption“.


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