Leadership is ‘Changing the Game’

Why is that some businesses are able to reinvent themselves and others just seem to be stuck?  The question seems more relevant than ever as businesses confront the disruptive impact of technology.

A recent Deloitte report suggests that about two thirds of Australian businesses will be disrupted by technology over the next three to five years.  Donovan Leadership recently polled sixty business leaders to see how they are dealing with that challenge.  The Big Kahuna Leadership Survey summarised their views and the main conclusion was that leadership is the key.  Leaders who can help avoid the threat as well as capitalise on the opportunity of technology disruption are required.  In other words, leaders who can ‘change the game.’

But how do leaders change the game?  We believe that leaders need to address two key factors to drive the success of their businesses in the challenging times ahead.  The first is to generate conversations that are based in the future: a vision of what is possible for the business.  The second success factor is to elicit strong ownership of those future based conversations from within the organization: people aligning themselves with the vision and strategy.  The model below illustrates the game-changing outcome of getting those two ingredients to match.  It also highlights the consequences of falling short on one or both of those two factors.


Some examples might help clarify these points.

Past based conversation/low ownership

As smartphones burst on to the scene, Nokia needed to become more innovative.  But it appears that at the same time, they were also becoming more bureaucratic with the result that they were stifling innovation.  Their past based conversation and low organisation ownership of their strategy combined to lead to their demise.

Past based conversation/high ownership

Think Kodak and digital photography, for an example of high ownership of the organisation strategy but stuck in a past-based conversation that film was the way to go.

Future based conversation/low ownership

Current examples of print, music and TV illustrate the innovators dilemma of starting a future based conversation about the need to change the game but lacking the organisation commitment to a new strategy.  The resistance to change from within the organisation is exacerbated when those businesses are still currently profitable.

Future based conversation/high ownership

The introduction of the iPhone by Apple a little over five years ago changed the game for mobile phones and consumer computing.  At that time, they had a future based conversation and strong ownership of the vision.  Of course, they are currently being pushed to change the game again now that the market has caught up with them.

Where is your business on the chart and what leadership could you provide to ensure that you are changing the game?