Dancing with Disruption Newsletter: August 2016

7 Disruptive Innovations That Will Change the World

This month’s Dancing with Disruption newsletter is co-authored with Paul Gustavson, President of Organizational Planning and Design. Paul is a recognized global management consultant whose specialty is large-scale change and high performance. He has authored A Team of Leaders (2014) and Running Into the Wind (2012).

In our recent book Reinvention we introduce the concept of global shockwaves. In chapter 1 we identify twenty global shockwaves (The Global Shockwave 20™) over the last 35 years that have helped create the turbulent, global, and disruptive business environment we operate in. Shockwaves are like rogue waves that catch you off guard at the beach and create total chaos as you tumble from its effects.

In a recent Huffington Post Blog by James Canton, he identified seven cutting edge innovations that he believes will change the world. We agree these are potentially huge shockwaves that seem to be already locked and loaded and heading for our beachfronts.

As you glance through the list of seven, ponder on the effects these might have on your own career and organization that you lead:

  • Crispr: Crispr is a gene editing technology that allows for the changing out, editing in, and altering of genes. It will end certain diseases, feed the planet, alter health care and human evolution, and even eliminate birth defects if commercialized.
  • SynBio: If engineering and biology got married they would be called SynBio (short for synthetic biology). It is the construction of new biological parts, devices, systems, and the re-design of existing biological systems.
  • Blockchain: Blockchain is the technology behind Bit Coin, the leading crypto-currency that might be the future of money. Blockchain could help in managing digital currencies and even larger economic planetary ecosystems.
  • IoT: When “things” wake up and become smart - aware of each other with the ability to communicate - we will have a different world. We may have 20 billion connected things by 2020. Smart things can monitor, sense, protect, transact, communicate, and share info that could enhance the quality of our lives (like smart cities).
  • Open AI: Artificial Intelligence is so powerful in its potential that Elon Musk has mused on its good, bad, and ugly possibilities. Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, IBM, and Google have invested approximately $10 Billion on AI R&D.
  • Big Data Analytics: The data tsunami of video, social media, text, pictures, and geospatial information is threatening to overwhelm humans, let alone machines. Big data science might transform every industry as the rise of the “predictive organization” becomes reality.
  • Planet GeoEngineering: This science will address rising ocean levels, droughts, pollution increases, and abrupt climate change. Planet GeoEngineering could be more vital to the future of humanity then any other innovation.

In the 21st century it will not be good enough to simply survive incoming global shockwaves. The best leaders and organizations will be those who are continually scanning the environment for potential disruptions. They will be capable of leveraging the energy from these disruptions and design their organizations accordingly. And they will build capabilities to actually accelerate results and leapfrog the competition.

These competencies will become highly sought after among global leaders and organizations of all shapes and sizes. Notice that all are intangible. It will be intangible competencies that will create healthy and sustainable economic moats around organizations in the future.

Very few organizations currently have the capability to do this. But the ability to simply “survive” massive disruption will soon be table stakes. It will merely be the cost of conducting business.

Leaders that learn how to leverage disruption to their benefit - and accelerate important scorecard results and sustainable competitive advantages - will be the market champions in the Age of Disruption.

Becky Schrumm

Boston, MA