Before the coronavirus and its associated recession, digital transformation at most companies was a near-term objective. Now, it’s an immediate strategic requirement. As companies bounce back after the pandemic shutdown, many are moving faster to modernize their IT while others are figuring out how to choose the right technologies and skills to thrive in a new, uncertain economy. Charlene Li, author or co-author of six books on leadership and transformation – including her latest, The Disruption Mindset –has blunt advice for all of them: The only way to get out of the present crisis is to think beyond it.
“The secret to the disruption mindset is … thinking about the future,” said Li, a senior fellow at consulting agency Prophet, whose clients include Marriott, Alteon Health and Chick-fll-A, just to name a few.
According to Li, most companies seek disruption in order to drive growth when in fact growth itself is disruptive. The companies that emerge successfully from the pandemic, therefore, won’t focus only on new technologies; they’ll also focus on new opportunities.
“I can spend two hours walking through every technology in the world, and you’ll be exactly where you are today,” Li said. “Or we can spend two hours trying to figure out how you’re going to grow and where the opportunities are, and really diving deep into who your customers are. Then we can face the hard, cold reality that you have no idea how to actually do that. That’s disruption. You’re going to change so much in order to meet those needs.”
The New ‘New Normal’
Li said that half the people she’s spoken to recently are uncertain about the future. In fact, many business leaders are so overwhelmed by the current pace of change that they don’t feel confident thinking beyond the next 30 days. They claim to be waiting for a “new normal” when in reality they’re holding out for a return to the old one.