Heads up, strong language is used in this blog for emphasis.
TL; DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Disruptors win because they have a superior mindset that focuses on not giving a fuck, fighting the people they hate and aggressively pursuing great wealth.
This blog is a ‘tell it as it really is’ insight into what disruptors really think, feel and do. It’s a reaction to this video which got me very pissed off up because I could not believe how detached the speaker is from today’s disrupted reality. This speaker doesn’t understand disruption and if you buy into what he is saying then you’re company is definitely going to die because you don’t get it either. The purpose of this post is to help you ‘get it’; to understand how disruptors approach things. Why? When you know your enemy, you have a better chance of beating them. So, pour yourself a drink, put on this song to evoke the disruptor ‘spirit’ and listen up.
Disruptors don’t give a fuck about regulators
Incumbents are supposed to work with regulators to define the status quo of an industry. What actually happens is ‘regulatory capture’, the phenomena whereby incumbents actually make the regulator serve their needs instead of the regulator protecting the consumer and market. The total failure of the British and US Financial Service Authorities to protect the world from financial apocalypse in 2008 is a good example of banks capturing their regulator. What actually happens is that incumbents use regulators to kill innovation and stop new entrants from taking market share, thereby creating stagnant environments were the incumbents maximises profit over everyone and everything else. The appalling level of service from taxis around the world is another good example of this as the taxi mafia (used to) dominate city hall world-wide (more examples here). However, there’s a problem for incumbents: disruptors don’t give a fuck about regulators.
Disruptors don’t care what regulators think because they focus on doing their own thing. They just don’t give a fuck. This ‘zero fucks given’ attitude is something incumbents cannot do or even understand. For example, Uber (transport), Airbnb (travel) and Transferwise (international payments). Taxis, hotels and banks are running around crying because they are being disrupted and yet the regulators are usually unsympathetic… Why?
The problem for incumbents is that they have forgotten that regulators serve the consumer, NOT the incumbent. Therefore, when the disruptors create something so goddamn awesome that totally redefines the industry (e.g. Uber) then regulators re-align themselves to the disruptor. Regulators have always known that global taxi business is a giant mafia scam but have lacked the power to do anything about it. That’s why most cities actually welcome Uber; it breaks the taxi mafia, finally provides long-suffering consumers with great transport and reduces congestion. Big win for City Hall.
Rule number 1 for thinking like a disruptor: Forget the rules, create your own then get others to support your way of doing things.
Disruptors fucking hate you (not you, the incumbent firms)
True story; Uber was founded because its co-founders were partying in Paris and couldn’t get a taxi for love or money. Having been in a similar situation myself I can tell you that it’s true, taxis are impossible in Paris let alone late at night. Immensely frustrated, they discussed the idea of a driver-on-demand service and Uber was born.
It’s important to note that what drove them to create Uber was their intense frustration at the taxi-travel reality. Not a clever business plan, not billions of investment, instead it was pure and simple RAGE at the incompetence and injustice of the way taxis served customers. In other words, the founders were fucking pissed-off and decided to do something about it.
Most disruptors are driven by a deeply felt ‘mission’; a profound desire to ‘beat the goddamn system and build a better world’. It is important to understand that this is pure rage, a deep hate for what exists and a burning passion and desire to build something better. They live, breathe and burn to beat the incumbents. They are on the warparth to break the old system and build a new, better one in their own image.
We can see examples of this phenomena in Apple, SpaceX and Tesla; companies driven by visionaries who demand a better world and will fight to the death to make it happen. Incumbents don’t understand this rage because the truth is that they don’t really give a shit. For example, the leaders at most banks don’t really give a shit about their customers or consumers. How do I know this? Because if you care then you create. When you really care about something you are compelled to create a better world for it. All we get is excuses about ‘what’s not possible’. There is no fire, no desire, no sincerity in ‘building a better world’ and that is why the disruptors fucking hate you.
Rule number 2 for thinking like a disruptor: Find what you care about and fight to the death for it.
Disruptors want to get fucking rich
Just because they are driven by their mission doesn’t mean disruptors don’t want to get paid. They do, big time. For them, getting paid is much more than earning money, it’s a way of keeping score, money is a measure of their success. I repeat, they aren’t earning money because they want a nicer car, they want to ‘win’ the game of life by getting the high score and scores are measured in millions and billions of dollars.
Disruptors want to get fucking rich and the way they are going to get there is by stealing market share from the incumbents. They think incumbents are too slow and ignorant to fight back (which is usually true) and, therefore, focus on growing as fast as possible. They don’t compete with incumbents because they know the incumbent CAN’T compete (do you really think taxis can compete with Uber?). Instead it’s all about go-go growth. Highly aggressive and focused on massive growth, disruptors are single-minded in pursuing the high-score of life.
Rule number 3 for thinking like a disruptor: Focus on explosive growth that rapidly captures market share.
Today we lived in a disrupted world; the confluence of globalisation, Gen Y and accelerating technologies. There are a lot of disruptors with the above mindset and many, many more will emerge in the next 5 years. To survive, incumbents will have to fight them and win, adopting the disruptor mindset can help them (you) do that.
In our increasingly disrupted VUCA reality, more and more startups are seeking to disrupt existing incumbent players to steal their gold and glory. How can it be that the titans of today are worried about tiny minnows? To understand the fear, we need to understand the nature of disruption.
According to Clayton Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor who popularised the term, disruption occurs when a new product opens a previously underserved market category (new market disruption) or offers a dramatically cheaper and/or easier value proposition (low-end disruption). Disruption does not refer to products that are cheaper, faster and better. Instead, disruption describes products and services that serve new categories of customers that then grow so big as to change the rules of the game.
For example, the iPhone was disruptive because it offered smartphones to a whole new category of people who had previously never considered buying a smartphone, ordinary consumers like you and me. Pre-2007, Blackberries et al. were for business and tech geeks, not normal consumers. Apple’s genius was to offer a far easier device that fundamentally re-defined what a phone was to an underserved population segment, the normal consumer.
The key insight here is that in the beginning the incumbents don’t care about being disrupted because they are not losing profitable customers. They are losing customers who they can’t serve anyway or didn’t believe existed. For example, many of the consumers who bought iPhones wouldn’t have bought Blackberries. For a long time, many people had a Blackberry for business and an iPhone for personal use. However, these disruptive technologies can become so popular so quickly that they cause the entire market to shift rendering the incumbent irrelevant i.e. people don’t want 2 phones and since the iPhone was more relevant to more people it ended up winning.
A key point is that as the disruptor grows, it causes existing consumers to shift their preferences i.e. they prefer the advantages the disruptor provides. For example, the iPhone keyboard was initially not as fast as the Blackberry physical keyboard and there were business functions the Blackberry could perform better e.g. encryption. But for most consumers, this was not as important as the many advantages the iPhone offered e.g. touch screen, apps etc. Eventually, even business people preferred to use iPhones and the battle was lost. The disruptive iPhone caused the market to shift in ways Blackberry had not anticipated; Blackberry did not expect the massive shift to consumer smartphones and suffered as a result.
Why didn’t Blackberry see this shift coming? A final, and crucial insight about disruption is that the traditional incumbent cannot fight the disruptor because they lack the means to do so. Specifically, they will lack the strategy, technology and people to fight back. Blackberry couldn’t build a serious iPhone competitor even when it actually wanted to (5 years too late). The problem is that the incumbent is trapped in their old way of doing things and this prevents them from changing fast enough. It is the incumbent’s inability to transform fast enough that causes them to die.
How fast does the incumbent need to transform itself? As I showed in a previous post, the problem is that the incumbent, especially the senior leaders who lead (manage) the incumbent, fail to take the disruptor seriously enough soon enough. They wait too long to respond and by the time they really understand what is going on it’s too late. It’s too late because the disruptor is now growing faster than the incumbent can fight back. At a certain point, Apple and Android were growing so fast that Blackberry (and Nokia and Microsoft) had no chance of catching up. Specifically, it seems like 5 years is the magic number, by the end of year 5 the disruptor will be moving at an innovation velocity that the incumbent cannot match. By 2013, it was clear that Apple and Android had won.
Based on the above insight, we can create a simple disruption equation to understand who will win, the disruptor or the incumbent. Specifically, can the disruptor gain market share faster than the incumbent can transform itself to fight back? If this is true, the disruptor will win e.g. Apple. However, if the incumbent can change fast enough, it can fight back against the disruptor and protect itself e.g. Microsoft protecting its Office product against Google Docs. Therefore, the entire contest comes down to 2 specific rates of change; the rate at which a disruptor gains market share vs. the rate at which an incumbent can transform themselves to fight the disruptor. This is what I call The Disruptor Equation.
The Disruptor Equation; the rate at which a Disruptor gains market share
vs the rate at which the Incumbent transforms themselves to fight the disruption.
:) Disruptor growth rate > Incumbent transformation rate :(
The Disruptor wins because they will grow faster than the incumbent can change
:( Disruptor growth rate < Incumbent transformation rate :)
The Incumbent wins because they can regain market share faster than the incumbent can steal it
However, since most organisations today are over-managed, under-led and have little innovation capability (especially in finance…), the reality is that most incumbents will die when confronted with aggressive, fast-moving disruptors who have superior technology and are well-funded (hello fintech!). The reason why many startups today receive huge valuations is that the investors believe the startup will grow faster than the incumbent can respond. People invested in Airbnb, Uber and SpaceX because they don’t think the incumbents will be able to fight back and that these new players will capture huge chunks of the market at the expense of the incumbent. The truth is, they are probably right. Incumbents are terrible at transforming the way they do business and that is why many of them are struggling and going out of business, they were on the wrong side of the disruptor equation. RIP Blackberry.
PS. Bonus example for those who are keen:
A beautiful example of disruption is Airbnb, the platform that allows anyone to transform their home into a hotel. At first, it only served Gen Y travellers; an underserved customer category who couldn’t afford hotels and wanted a more local experience. Airbnb was disruptive because it served a new customer category. The company grew rapidly and then started to target traditional business travellers and is increasingly attacking traditional hotel markets. Today it is worth more than USD $30 billion, more than most hotel groups in the world. None of the billion dollar hotel groups in the world have been able to create a serious competitive response to Airbnb because they are stuck in their old models of charging you $15 USD for wifi and $30 USD for breakfast. There is a quote to describe disruptors: "first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then you win." Airbnb has won the 21st Century travel market… for now.
The Leadapreneur team are pleased to share with you this guest blog post from Kristoffer Briones, Head of Talent Management & Organizational Development at Smart AXIATA
“The biggest driver of success is innovation! We need to think outside the box!”
I’m imagining a scene where a CEO of some company is standing on a well-lit stage, trying to convince its employees through some well-practised rhetoric and fancy theatrics, asserting that “innovation is key". However, beyond these shows, these big words typically don’t translate to a meaningful transformation into a truly innovative company.
So how do we build a truly innovative company? I stumbled upon this question when I joined a workshop my company organizes for educating our top talents on how to lead agile innovation. We partnered with a company called Leadapreneur  who delivers an experiential learning platform for our talents to create an idea, get it done (as opposed to mere simulated business plans), and convince our CEO that it actually generated business value. Essentially, this is the question we are trying to answer through this program, but it is a rather complicated question. However, I believe one of the answers lies in re-framing the question instead. When asking how to build a company that drives innovation, one of the underlying questions that need to be explored is this: How do you build entrepreneurial ownership? (or a more appropriate term might be "intrapreneurial" ownership - employees feeling like they own the company and it’s their personal desire to take their company to the next level). Why ask this? To start, we need to understand what truly drives innovation.
"How do we build 'intrapreneurial' ownership?" How do we make employees feel like they own the company and it’s their personal desire to take their company to the next level?
More often than not, innovation is associated with words like creativity, inventions, new technologies, etc. I’m not saying these associations are wrong, but these words only show the tip of the iceberg. What really drives innovation underneath is the conscious will and effort to put yourself out there, vulnerable against the world that is used to keeping the system of what works today . It's the deep drive and desire to create an alternative to the current system as a way of expressing one's self. This is either moved by eliminating/reducing pain or by having/maximizing gain – in short, by avoiding fears or by pursuing dreams. With that said, desire is usually rendered “too fluffy” and not what's typically accounted for when senior leaders talk about building an innovative company.
If these words are not only meaningless lip service from senior leaders, they’re oftentimes addressing the wrong issues to make the leap towards an innovative company. One common issue is what I just mentioned -- overestimating the “abilities" problem or competency gaps in contrast to putting more attention to address the motivation which is the real yet invisible engine of innovation. Again, both are important as elegantly expressed by the performance equation (Performance = Motivation x Abilities ); however, the typical reaction of managers to why a company is not innovative is to just blame the competencies of the people.
"Our employees are just not creative enough".
"They don't have the right mindset and don't think outside the box."
To some extent, this statement might be true, but just sending them off to traditional training might not be the answer either. In fact, majority of traditional (typically classroom-based) training programs would often fail to address such issues .
If that’s the case, how do we address motivation? One good place to look when it comes to innovation would be examples of innovators themselves – entrepreneurs. True entrepreneurs demonstrate intense hunger to realize what they desire to create. This desire is translated to taking a number of bold moves and putting in more hours for repeated iteration of what they’re trying to build. It’s precisely this strong desire and burning passion that give entrepreneurs courage to overcome the fear of failure and persevere through countless rejections. Innovation, being the pursuit of a new reality, universally requires to some extent a similar level of desire in the employees of a company should they wish to innovate as well. Companies cannot just require employees to be “innovative”; employees themselves need to want enough to innovate if they were to persevere in the realm of uncertainty the same way entrepreneurs do.
This is where the biggest gap is – the assumption that just focusing on competencies would do the rest. It does not necessarily translate to the extra hours that employees need to put other than business as usual and willingly putting this added effort without expecting overtime pay. Attending a workshop for “creativity” does not translate to the courage needed when it comes to taking initiative – initiatives that could fail but they do them anyways despite the fear from their managers blaming them for the possible failure. All these virtues of passion, courage, and resilience are pre-dominantly missing in the way we look at building innovative organizations today. Right now, the current popular “box” of how to build innovative companies is to just think of skills and solving that issue by traditional training. We need to re-think the box by accounting for the underlying influence of innovation which is the passion to create and an organizational culture built around it – something that classroom training cannot solve and traditional command-and-control management almost always kills. After we have started with building desire among employees, learning the necessary skills (or seeking how to develop them) would just almost naturally follow.
And here’s the thing, we can never have people who think outside the box because our minds always need a “box” to frame our thoughts; what we need to do is to re-think and re-imagine the box.
Now, how do we get employees to be passionate enough and hungry enough to innovate? How do we attract or shape talents to have an intrapreneurial ownership? One critical answer is PURPOSE. If companies are able to discover and articulate their purpose clearly by expressing authenticity around this purpose in anything they do and say, they get to attract and motivate talents who not only share the same purpose but also, as a consequence, willing to put in the time and effort to innovative progress, without necessarily expecting financial returns . Just look at companies like Apple, Google, Tesla, Uber, etc. to name a few. I’m not saying that all these companies have 100% employees who actively innovate, but these companies were at least able to give meaning to their employees’ work beyond just “having a job” because of what their company stands for. From livelihood, it became a platform for them to live and express their life’s purpose during their stay in those companies.
In our company, this is exactly what we are starting to address. We are now in a journey to re-discover our organization’s purpose that we kick-started during a management retreat we organized 2 months ago. From here, we not only can start to over-communicate our purpose but also can make sure that every single policy, process, practice, branding materials, competency, behavior, mindset, etc. is all an aligned and consistent expression of that purpose.
To support this with our innovation program, we also did the Lifepath – an exercise developed by Leadapreneur with the objective of allowing people to re/discover their purpose as a means of giving meaning to what they are doing today and what they intend to do in the future. Talents, who find greater congruence between their life’s purpose and the company’s, are definitely more engaged. However, the flip-side is true as well; the lack of understanding of one’s purpose or the company’s lead to disengagement or at least a very transactional relationship.
For people who are thinking this is all just fluffy talk, here’s a very well-written report by Ernst & Young and Harvard Business Review about the “business case for purpose”.  What’s going to be the source of relentless drive of people to push forward innovation, which by definition will naturally have the possibility of failure, is PURPOSE!
To end, here’s a quote from one of my post-modern heroes in the 21st century.
Why do big companies change so slowly and die? They dramatically underestimate innovation velocity.
Innovation velocity is the speed and direction of growth that an innovation creates. Small disruptive organisations have very high innovation velocity and this is why they kill big slow incumbents.
In a VUCA reality, disruption happens in a non-linear and often exponential manner. This means that incumbents are blissfully unaware of what is going on until it is too late and the aggressive disruptor has captured the market. The key issue is that the incumbent is far too complacent and fails to create the sense of urgency that is essential for creating the innovation that will beat the disruptor. How can this be? How can smart and capable leaders get it so wrong? Because it’s really hard to understand the power of exponential growth that innovation creates. Let’s see if you can get your head around it.
Imagine a situation where you own 100% of the market and suddenly a new disruptor launches and gains 1% of the market. Now you have 99% and they have 1%. However, because they are very innovative and aggressive, they will double their market share every year. How many years do you have until you lose? Have a quick guess. The answer is 7 years. Yes, within 7 years, this puny disruptor will have broken you and in 8 years it will utterly destroy you; that is the power of non-linear growth. As you can see in the images below, exponential growth is difficult to comprehend, even for the most seasoned of leaders.
This is not a theoretical exercise, just ask Nokia. The iPhone launched in early 2007 and by the end of 2013, 7 years later (!), Nokia was bought by Microsoft and it was all over. Of course, it wasn’t the iPhone alone that killed Nokia, it was Apple and Android together. 2 disruptors who experienced non-linear growth and obliterated what was once the world’s mobile phone titan. The graph below shows the exponential growth of Apple and Android and the concurrent exponential collapse of Nokia. This provides a key insight to disruption; it’s not going to be 1 disruptor that kills the incumbent, it will be multiple aggressors who together create the kill.
Nokia (green Symbian line) was utterly destroyed by Android's & Apple's exponential growth
A key point to recognise is that up to year 5 there is nothing scary for the incumbent, they still hold 84% of market share. However, on current trends, the incumbent will utterly die in 3 years! This is exactly what happens to complacent incumbents who are ‘managing change’. Only after the year 6 numbers come in, when the disruptor suddenly gains 32% market share, does management panic. They desperately seek a solution but of course it’s far too late because the disruptors grow much faster than the incumbent can change. The disruptors build on their innovation velocity to capture market share faster than the complacent and stagnant incumbent. By year 7 it’s clear that the game is over for the incumbent. Management is in shock, they say things like “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost” Stephen Elop, Nokia CEO. No, you lost because you weren’t paying attention to innovation velocity. Nokia didn’t understand innovation velocity and the exponential growth it creates. Its management team was too complacent and as a result Nokia died. However my reader the real question here is this… will you make the same mistake?
To help you avoid this mistake I suggest a simple thought exercise.
In summary, we have discussed the critical important of innovation velocity; the speed at which disruptors will capture market share from the incumbent (remember there will be more than 1 disruptor!). The key issue is that the disruptors will always have faster innovation velocity than the incumbent and this is what causes the incumbent to lose. The disruptors gain market share faster than the incumbent can change. Specifically, they gain market share at an exponential rate. However, the incumbent will not realise how much trouble it really is in until it’s too late due to the nature of non-linear, exponential growth (it only panics at year 6). If the incumbents are to survive, it will be up to leaders like you to sound the alarm now and call the organisation to innovate before it’s too late. If you need help getting started, let me know.
When I was a child, I remembered that I wanted to be the first female president. I remembered classmates laughing and some thought it as being 'cute' when I was serious about it. Then in high school, I had always settled down as second best. This made me wonder why I waited for more than 10 years before really owning up to the person I really wanted to be. I made myself believe that it was okay for society to project that men are the leaders, that I was only 'dreaming' no matter how capable I was. It influenced me, and as a result I feel I never pushed myself to be the best I could be.
The reality was that I let my inner demons control me, instead of taking control of them. I attended so many other motivational camps and did not realize this until I completed the Lifepath in 2014. Only then could I see how far my own limiting beliefs had hindered me from achieving the things I had always dreamt of. I had always followed what others expected of me, without reflecting upon my own limiting beliefs. But only when I become aware of my inner demons, can I achieve greater heights in life.
Why is this so, and why do I have these limiting beliefs, or as I like to call them, inner demons? Similar to a building that needs pillars to stand strong, my actions are driven by my belief system. A belief system is a framework that I use to structure my reality, to define what is within reach and what is not. My beliefs are developed over the years either consciously or subconsciously through my life experiences, the way I am educated, my surrounding environment and everyone around me; my parents, teachers, friends and so on. These beliefs can be either limiting me from reaching my full potential, or empowering me to be the best version of myself. The ultimate mission is to ensure that my empowering beliefs are stronger that my limiting beliefs.
On this blog, I'd like to share 3 STEPS which have helped me overcome my limiting beliefs:
1. FACING MY DEMONS
Most often times, I know I can achieve so much more in life, but somehow I manage to tell myself excuses, one after the other, that helps me justify why I am not pursuing my dreams. I finally settle down for something ordinary instead of fighting for what I truly believe I can achieve. I create my comfort zones and choose to stay in them as they surround me by my limiting beliefs. Stepping outside of my comfort zone, passed my limiting beliefs is risky and scary. Thus, my limiting beliefs are what is blocking me from going beyond and becoming the best version of myself. But the reality is, I owe to myself to create a meaningful life, and not being held back by myself. I started to do this by naming all my demons. I sat down in a peaceful place and listed down countless limiting beliefs. What helped me was to start my thoughts and sentences with “ I am afraid that...", "I don’t deserve to...”, “I am not...”, and so on. This exercise allowed me to see them on a tangible list. Seeing is believing. The unseen can always cause a huge fear because it is unpredictable and beyond our control. By making something visible, it becomes real. The key here is to not think too hard, but rather to listen to my feelings.
2. UNDERSTANDING OUR INNER DEMONS
After listing out my inner demons, the next step is to understand where they come from and how their roles have been affecting my life. This is because in order to face my enemies, I need to visualise and understand its tactics so that I can manage them. To understand my inner demons, I tried to simply ask "why" does this limiting beliefs exist? For example:
Once I understand why my limiting beliefs are formed, I chose the one limiting belief that affects me the most, the one which hinders me the most.
3. TAKE CONTROL OF MY LIFE
Now that I had identified my biggest inner demons, I need weapons to control them. The reality is that having limiting beliefs helps me to stay grounded, and gives me something to fight for. I cannot get rid of my inner demons because they are part of who I am. The key is to develop my ability to control them as opposed to letting them control me. Here is how I can do that:
If you're interested to know more about overcoming limiting beliefs and creating your Lifepath, feel free to reach out for me at email@example.com. Join our community in Facebook and Instagram and let’s take control of our demons together.
Off to control my inner demon and become a female President,
Business Coordinator at Leadapreneur
I recently answered a Quora question asking 'what is the most important invention in history?' My answer was leadership, here's why.
Leadership is comprised of 3 basic tasks:
Inventing the leadership process is what took us from intelligent apes to civilisation. Language is an important invention but it alone is not enough to enable civilisation as there are many animals that have basic languages and don’t create global civilisations. Any technology requires the deployment of leadership for it to function; leadership is the fundamental invention on which all civilisation is built.
Leadership transformed our progress as a species for 3 reasons:
When leadership fails, social systems fail and there is collapse. When leadership is strong, we are able to build a better world. Thus, we can say that the long term viability of a social system is a function of its leadership capability; the better its leaders the more likely that community is to survive and thrive.
Middle-level managers and above teamed up to create 6 innovative projects that resulted a min. innovation value of $246,000 USD, resulting in a positive final ROI of 1,757% for the client.
Leadapreneur enabled its client Europ Continents to lead agile innovation.
Problem that was solved
Enabling staff to solve critical internal workflow challenges and unlock significant sales growth by learning how to lead agile innovation.
Leadapreneur implemented its Corporate Innovation Accelerator (CIA) programme: a journey that combines 6 distinct phases over 12 weeks to enable participants to identify innovation opportunities, create relevant innovations, deliver those innovations and present their achievements.
6 ½ days of workshops provided the core learning and thinking environments. The delivery phase of the project was supported with weekly coaching and the use of online tools to create Gantt charts. A gamification mechanism ensured consistent engagement and all teams reaching the final stage of the programme.
To graduate from the programme and become a ‘level 1 leadapreneur’, a team must create more than $10,000 USD as validated by the company CEO. 5 out of 6 teams passed creating a minimum innovation value of $246,000 USD and 9 leadapreneurs. Final ROI for the client was 1,757% and future ROI will scale significantly as the projects continue to create significant value.
The client is looking to launch a second cycle to build on the results so far, create new innovations and continue to build its leadership pipelines as it recognises the value of its staff become certified ‘leadapreneurs’.
Ordinary employees and ‘talents’ have little incentive to innovate as it is not reflected in their KPIs, they are not financially rewarded, it is politically risky and very difficult to do. This can be overcome by designing the innovation process to become a personal journey of transformation.
About 2 months ago, I shared this sentence with the 22 selected female participants at the launch of the Lean In Career Programme, an 8-week career programme developed by Asia Women Circle and Leadapreneur.
Because you see… Ambition is believing in yourself and in your abilities. Ambition is our drive. Ambition is the HUNGER we feel to create something greater than ourselves. Ambition is like the fuel that feeds a fire, and the stars that lighten up the sky. It’s what makes us shine bright, and burn with desire. Ambition is what enables you & I to become our own version of what it means to be successful.
I think we can all agree that to have “ambition” is important, for men & women, to grow, to be successful, and to advance the world we live in. But for many different reasons which I’m still trying to understand, the word “ambition”, when combined with the word “woman” feels somewhat disconcerting for many in our societies, whether you’re in Malaysia, Switzerland or Brazil. As a woman, if you choose to prioritize your career, you’re seen to “selfish”. If you lead, you’re called “bossy”. And if you raise your voice, you’re being “aggressive”. Why is “ambition” incompatible with being feminine? My lean in pledge was to marry the 2; ambition & women, and it is what inspired me to champion the Lean In Career Programme. Because to be ambitious is a great thing.
I am so proud, and honoured, to have witnessed over the past 8 weeks 22 female professionals harness their ambitions to lean in. Through a highly sophisticated process & innovative methodologies, powered by Leadapreneur ;-) the Lean In Career Programme focused on enabling the participants to actually achieve their career goals instead of talking about them. Earlier this morning some of you witnessed 22 women share how they leaned in to achieve what they thought was impossible. They gained clarity and confidence to lead, negotiating for higher salaries, earn promotions, start new companies & build ideas, better teams, relationships & movements. Every one of their stories is united by the fact that they awakened their ambition and they chose to do something great for themselves. With a 0% drop out rate and a 100% mentor retention rate, these women and their Lean In stories are a true testimony of what it means to be ambitious. Their stories spoke for themselves and proved that we can achieve greatness when we choose to pursue our ambitions. Ladies, I salute you and your courage. Thank you for inspiring me to believe that to be ambitious is a great thing.
Ladies & gentlemen, we need to change the stereotype of what it means to be an “ambitious woman”. Because I believe ambition is not a dirty word. Ambition is a great word. It is an AMAZING word. It’s is a sexy word. A word you use to build your future. And so if we want to empower women to harness their potential, we need to empower them to be ambitious. I urge each one of you to ask yourselves “what is your great ambition?” That’s a big question. What is it in your life you think you cannot accomplish yet you yearn to achieve?... Or what is it that people have said that you cannot do?... Wouldn’t it feel really good to prove them all wrong? Wouldn’t it feel better to prove yourself right? And to stop standing in the shadow & to step into the light. YOUR light.
Imagine this… What would happen if we were all brave enough to believe in our own abilities & to awaken the fire of being ambitious? I think we would live in a better world. Because to be ambitious is to announce to the world that it is your time to shine. Seize it, live it, become it. Breath the fire of your ambition, awaken your soul & become great. Greatness lies in all of us; we’re just waiting for the chance to release it. So I say to you: your time is now. This is not the end, this is the beginning of your time to shine.
Ladies, this is your time. Believe in yourself. Be bold. Be brave. Be Brilliant. Build a better world.
Jessica Macias <3
Promoting the Lean In Career Programme, an 8-week journey to empower driven & ambitious women
to accelerate their careers. This was right before it all started...
At the various Mid-week Networking Evenings where the participants, mentors, trainers and Lean In Committee
re-connected, re-focused and re-energized to pursue their ambitions.
On top right, participants met with their respective mentors (top senior executives) every week.
The first batch of the amazing wonder women who graduated from the Lean In Career Programme
at the inaugural ‘Lean In Tournament’, hosted at Mindvalley's Hall of Awesomness.
Your mindset is the lens through which you see the world.
Your mindset is created by combining your different beliefs about the world into one unified belief-system. The purpose of a mindset is to help you filter the information in the world to be more effective at understanding your reality and operating within it. Everyone has a mindset because everyone has beliefs about the world.The management mindset is the worldview that the organisation is a machine that must be optimised. It is based on 5 beliefs:
According to the management mindset, change is successfully ‘managed’ when there is stability, people are following the plan, efficiency is maximised, mistakes eliminated and risk is minimised. However, this mindset creates a culture of complacency within managers and organisations that they are ‘controlling change’ when in fact all they are doing is creating an artificial reality bubble. The management mindset creates the internal illusion that ‘we are ok’ because we are managing things and a culture of complacency and comfort emerges. This lays the foundation for what Hoverstadt calls ‘the death spiral’, an organisation’s deadly descent into crisis.
In the death spiral, the cult of management has created a complacent organisation that is comfortable in its place in the market. For example, in 2007, BlackBerry was very comfortable in the niche it had created for itself as the leading smartphone manufacturer. It failed to detect and take seriously the changes that the iPhone and Android systems created. As these new products exploded into the marketplace, Blackberry suddenly faced a crisis as it was unprepared to compete with the iPhone. Management felt like they were no longer in control of the situation and needed to ‘do something’ to regain control. Instead of a thoughtful strategic response, management rushed the Blackberry Storm to the marketplace. This inferior product was a disaster with nearly 100% of the Storms being returned and most of these customers switching to Apple. As the crisis deepened, management resorted to more quick fixes which meant they missed the even bigger shift in the market which was from Gen X business customers to Gen Y consumers. For a brief moment, BlackBerry messenger was the coolest thing in town but management understood this strategic shift too late and failed to capitalise on it because they were too busy fighting the fires created by their complacency. By now, BlackBerry was rapidly becoming irrelevant as its competitors quickly gained market share making it harder and harder for BlackBerry to stage a comeback. This descent into irrelevance is the final stage of the death spiral and today BlackBerry is a shadow of its once dominant position.
The management mindset is fatal for organisations because it creates a deadly complacency towards complex change. What specifically kills the organisation is that it takes too long for it to respond to the shock of unexpected change. By the time Blackberry had some idea of what was happening and was formulating a strategic response Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, One Plus etc. had already captured the market and were far ahead in their development cycles.
What should Blackberry have done? They should never have become complacent in the first place. By the time Apple launched the iPhone Blackberry’s destiny was largely set because it did not have the internal capacity to change fast enough. Blackberry should have been seeking to aggressively deploy advanced technology like the iPhone (which it could have developed) before its competitors. By disrupting itself, it would have prevented others from creating the disruption. A key issue is that management fails to understand how bad their organisation is at change. They think that issuing the command to ‘be more innovative’ instantly translates into more innovation. This is a hallmark feature of the management mindset which believes it can ‘command the machine(organisation) to do its bidding’. As most managers know , this is simply not true; innovation does not come from diktats.
In short, the management mindset kills organisations because its leaders take too long to formulate an effective response to the massive shock of unexpected change. While they are trying to work out what is actually happening and formulate an appropriate response, the upstart competitors are blazing away leaving the incumbent far behind. The competitors grow much faster than you can change and therefore you become irrelevant long before you ‘fix’ yourself. This happened to Kodak (replaced by Go Pro), Intel (replaced by Qualcomm) and nearly happened to IBM (who were basically killed by Microsoft but just managed to pivot into another industry).
The answer is to stop trying to manage change and instead move to a new paradigm of ‘leading agile innovation’ and I will examine that in more detail in my next post.