Do You Have The Mindset of a Disrupter?

(By Buzz Knight) We are living in interesting times to say the least and everywhere you turn we hear about the disruptive forces around us.

How organizations can rise to the challenge and in fact create new opportunities is on the minds of many in executive boardrooms across the country, especially in the audio business.

That’s why Charlene Li’s new book The Disruption Mindset. Why some organizations transform while others fail, is particularly pertinent in today’s business world.

Charlene has long been an inspiring force from her work as a founder and senior fellow at Altimeter and her five previous books on leadership.

Her expertise on disruptive growth strategies makes her a perfect voice for our time. The book provides real-world examples of the simple secret of successful disruptive strategies on how companies should craft their vision of how to best serve a new customer. One example is T-Mobile and their disruption of the mobile phone industry.

After T-Mobile’s failed merger with AT&T yielded them a three billion dollar breakup fee, they were faced with the monumental challenge of driving growth. They were in serious need of dramatic measures and they saw an opportunity to shift from a defensive to an offensive strategy.

As a point of differentiation, they chose the path of creating transparency and trust with their customer base by ripping up the traditional two-year contract model, separating handset costs from monthly service charges.

T-Mobile’s “un-carrier” rebranding with its “no service contract” offer was a brilliant way to tap the hearts and minds of their customers and create true disruptive growth. They answered the key question in the process of “who is your future customer?”

How in audio can we best ask the question of who our future customer is?

In the book, Charlene brings laser focus to the idea that disruptive growth comes from having the sensors ready to serve the needs of future customers, not just today’s customers. When an organization has a strategy to drive disruptive growth, the entire team is aligned on addressing the needs of future customers. When we are obsessed with our customers, the organization is built for the future.

Charlene gives insight into how an organization should prepare for what she calls “the big gulp moment“ by developing a three-step strategy blueprint that will lead to disruptive transformation:

– Build the case with rigorous research
– Secure buy-in with transparency
– Burn the boats so there’s no turning back.

Among the real-world examples she cites are Adobe’s move to a subscription model for its suite of services as a transformative move to address a declining business model.

The book reminds us that if you desire to make a solid case for a disruptive strategy you need to invest the resources and time needed, secure the right data about your future customers, and maybe most importantly, find champions within your own organization.

Finding champions for disruptive transformation initiatives is also, according to the book, about identifying the most effective type of followers within an organization. The effective followers are “people who think for themselves and carry out their duties and assignments with energy and assertiveness” as risk-takers and self-starters within an organization.

Nurturing and developing these team members is a critical priority for transforming an organization.

Charlene places particular emphasis in the book on the importance of developing disruptive leadership within organizations.

In order to put clarity and focus on what it takes for leaders to be disruptive, she conducted a global survey of more than a thousand leaders. Her analysis reveals that not all disruptive leaders are alike and that the nuances are key to understanding how to develop them.

She breaks down what she calls the Four Archetypes of Disruptive Leadership:
1. The Steadfast Manager – They are the leaders the organization turns to when execution must happen on time and on budget.
2. The Realist Optimist – They are the leaders who are open to change, coupled with leadership behaviors that inspire and empower others to make change happen.
3. The Worried Skeptic – They are the leaders who look at the world from a glass-half-empty perspective and worry about the things that can go wrong. Their voice is crucial and these leaders should appeal to the strong leadership behaviors of the Realist Optimists to make sure their concerns are heard.
4. The Agent Provocateur – These are leaders who seek out the unknown because change creates opportunities for growth.

Charlene creates an incredibly actionable way to use an understanding of these Archetypes of Leadership and manage internal organizational dynamics to maximize digital transformative growth.

By understanding leaderships “openness to change mindsets,” and the nuances of leadership behaviors, she guides us with a blueprint for shared vision and purpose. Her clear and definitive blueprint on how to manage change and foster the most successful culture makes The Disruption Mindset a critical addition to every strategic meeting and boardroom.

As she quotes Walt Disney: “The Way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Listen to my new podcast “Buzz Cuts” and my first episode with Charlene Li available where all podcasts are found and on buzzknight
Buzz Knight is the CEO of Buzz Knight Media and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]


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