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Horner's Corner: Disruption, Change, and Strategy. Oh My!

Disruption, Change, and Strategy. Oh My!

Disruption is a byproduct of change. There’s no avoiding byproducts, just ask any manufacturer!  

Two typical creators of disruption impact the business world. Both require attention and strategic thinking from organizational leadership. Keen focus and robust understanding are needed to address, manage, and lead through these disruptions. 

  • Industry Disruptors – typically due to technology evolution 
  • Local or World Event – something unexpected occurs  

These most often are incredibly different circumstances, however, there are some similarities in how a leader might proceed through them.  

First, leadership should ask “What is/could be the impact on our organization?”. More than one answer likely will arise. Disruption can impact your people, your product, your market, your peers. It can impact the way you approach achieving your mission and executing on your deliverables/product. Impacts on your community and environment are also a possibility. Each of these and others not named here will impact your organization. Developing as comprehensive a list as possible is the place to start. 

Second, create draft responses to address each item on that list. Do this in the most efficient manner possible given the information on hand. This is not the place for an exhaustive amount of research or analysis paralysis. Leadership should be brainstorming draft responses to provide a baseline for strategic thinking.  

Next, create small task forces who will develop strategies to address each of these items. Further examination and information gathering comes into play at this stage. Depending on the magnitude of the disruptor and the swiftness at which you need to respond, some time can be taken here to develop solid strategies.  

As implementation of strategies begins, make sure that all members of the team are prepared to be flexible. Often disruption sends out multiple ripples and that original strategic response might need to be adjusted as you move forward. 

Of course, make sure you celebrate milestones along the way. For tips on how leaders approach others throughout the technical side of this process, check out my blog from earlier this year on Crisis Leadership.