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  • Writer's pictureROHEI

Leading Your Organisation Through Disruption

Do threats of disruption keep you up at night? Here are three things that matter most in the age of change.


In a Nutshell

  • People need to take centre stage for an organisation to ride the wave of business disruptions

  • Culture is key to managing people through change

  • Trust is the foundation for Culture of Innovation and Learning


Disruption is a business reality that leaders continue to grapple with. While future-minded brands such as Google, GE, and 3M innovate and lead change, many organisations out there are dreading the effects of disruption, struggling with how to cope, much less how to thrive.

For an organisation to successfully ride the wave of the disruptive economy, people need to take center stage. And culture is key to managing people through change.

Here are three dimensions of culture that matter most in the age of disruption:

1. Culture of Innovation

“Unfortunately, many executives underestimate the importance of culture in an era of digital,” D!gitalist says in Why Culture Change Is Essential For Digital Transformation. As a learning and development consultancy, we are often approached by business leaders asking us how they can get their people to be open to new mindsets, to participate in digital transformation. The short answer is: start with culture.

“Culture leads to technology adoption. The ability to innovate depends on the impatience of the organizational culture. Organizations need to build the culture and community, making time for people to share experiences, test, and learn what works, brainstorm, and collaborate.” -D!gitalist

“It takes time to develop a digital culture. The sooner a company acts, the more quickly it will be able to compete in today’s fast-paced, digitized, multichannel world. For example, Southwest Airlines, in operation for more than 40 years, fostered a culture change that empowers employees to go digital to help customers….Even Coca Cola has reinvented itself with culture change by focusing on digital natives while offering more than 100 flavored drinks.”

“The bottom line is clear: Culture is the most important enabler of digital transformation. Without people, tools won’t make any difference.”

In Why Culture is the Heart of Organizational Innovation, Forbes says that “According to a 2016 Gartner Financial Services Innovation Survey:

‘the biggest threat to innovation is internal politics and an organizational culture which doesn’t accept failure, doesn’t accept ideas from outside, and/or cannot change.’

The article proceeds to recommend a focus on creating an environment for innovation through “giving permission to challenge assumptions, creating openness to new ideas, and giving freedom to experiment, fail, and learn.”

2. Culture of Continuous Learning

“While we have innovated in many other areas of our lives, we have yet to take into consideration the importance of teaching global digital skills that fall outside of traditional curriculum. The reality is we need to act now to make sure learning is keeping up with the rapid pace of innovation,” says Chief Learning Officer in their article Analysis: Culture the Key to Digital Skills Disruption.

Our learning mindset and assumptions are still heavily influenced by the structure of traditional education, the primary mode of learning. But degrees do not equip you for a lifetime or career in this age of disruption.

“What’s the solution? According to Bersin by Deloitte, organizations with a strong learning culture are 46 percent more likely to be first to market, enjoy 37 percent greater employee productivity and are 58 percent more prepared to meet future demand,” the Chief Learning Officer article continues.

“Organizations should be promoting a culture that supports continually learning the newest skills needed for success. Instilling the need for training programs outside of traditional onboarding when a candidate is hired will help to promote the concept that learning should be a constant. Educators can do their part by providing students, both undergraduates and post-graduates, with the mindset that learning must extend well beyond graduation and will be a critical part of any professional career.”

Learning must be an everyday habit of individuals, and more so for organisations.

Learning that is focused on what is necessary for the team to learn, so that your organisation can adapt and thrive. “Finding success in the digital economy means being flexible and open-minded about new ideas. Promoting a collaborative learning culture allows both corporations and educational institutions to work in alignment toward the goal of promoting learning.

By being a part of a global digital workplace, we have a strong connection with the need to have advanced technology. However, the crucial piece of the puzzle is knowing that continual learning is a critical element of succeeding in the future digital workplace,” Chief Learning Officer says.

Learn more about overcoming digital adoption challenges in the Building Digital Confidence E-book.

3. Culture of Trust

A culture of innovation and learning differentiates organisations that thrive in a world of change, from those who are struggling to survive.

There is a third component: Trust. While innovation and learning focus on producing results, trust gives importance to relationships. The true strength of a team is in its relationships. And leadership plays a role in creating trust, in communicating to the team that this is a safe place for you to innovate, to learn.

A culture of trust provides the assurance that their jobs are not threatened by disruption. That you are empowering your people to develop themselves, to be problem-solvers and stay relevant.

Trust is a key factor in organisations that thrive. Trust strengthens talent retention. While forces are threatening you externally, the last thing you want to have are internal issues, talent and hiring woes.

A culture of trust is foundational to making innovation and learning truly possible. And for securing your organisation for the long run, through the ups and downs of the disruptive economy.


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