Why CEOs should self-disrupt

by Evan Davies, Chief Executive - QLD, VIC, NZ | |   Leadership
Why CEOs should self-disrupt

In the past year or two, when members of The CEO Institute were asked to name their single biggest challenge, typically their No. 1 answer has been "the rapid pace of technological change".

Ten years ago, not many people could say they saw the taxi or hotel businesses as ripe for disruption. On the surface, neither Uber nor Airbnb look like a particularly threatening competitor. They don't own vehicles or hotels. Their innovations were almost entirely driven by technology, making it possible for them to revolutionise their respective industries. Their ability to connect customers with transportation and lodging quicker, easier, and more efficiently than the old models has made them the 'new normal' for consumers - and massively disrupted existing competitors.

Critics would say that not all businesses aim to be the new Uber, which is true. Even so, if we look through recent history, it is littered with organisations that have found themselves increasingly irrelevant or even obsolete. Video store chains usurped by the rise of Netflix, physical bookstores hit by Amazon's digital offerings, and the corporate recruiting market is becoming increasingly disrupted by LinkedIn Recruiter.

The way technology is going, it seems not a matter of if your business will be disrupted, it's a matter of when, how, and by whom. Therefore, the best course of action it seems is to meet disruption head-on and disrupt yourself before someone else does. CEOs can no longer expect what worked yesterday will work for tomorrow.

At a recent Syndicate meeting, several CEOs talked about the importance firstly of being able to see their business as disrupters would see it. This challenge requires escaping the aura of headquarters.

It was also agreed that one of the biggest continual challenges of CEOs in avoiding disruption is driving the right corporate culture. A culture whereby assumptions are rethought and there is an openness to learning is imperative.
 
Technology evolves and revolutionises everything, but leading people still matters most. With the right culture, people are more likely to embrace new technologies rather than fight them, and the work of company transformation can proceed.

Embracing disruption means your business needs to be agile and able to react quickly to changing market conditions. Businesses need to be able to scale up rapidly, embrace change and view innovation as a long-term strategy, not a short-term fix.

Successful CEOs lead a business that continually self-disrupts. Self-disruption isn't something you do just once. Amazon disrupted bookstores 20 years ago, then disrupted its own books-by-mail model with Kindle e-readers. Every successful disrupter becomes an incumbent in its transformed industry.


The CEO Institute was founded in 1992. It is now Australia's leading membership organisation for CEOs and senior executives. It provides a forum for over 1,000 Chief Executive members to connect and share their learning with each other. In 2011, The CEO Institute became the world’s first global certification body for CEOs, and in 2013, partnered with UNESCO in support of the "Malala Fund for Girls' Right to Education". In 2014, they began offering their programs globally.
 
The CEO Syndicate is an exclusive peer support network for CEOs. The first meeting of The CEO Syndicate program was held in Melbourne in June 1992. Offices were opened in Adelaide in 1996 and Sydney and Brisbane in 1997, with Perth launching in 2007. In 2015, the New Zealand office opened.
 
The Future CEO program is a certification course designed by the business leaders of today for the business leaders of tomorrow. The first Future CEO meeting was held in Melbourne in May 2012. In 2014, the "Future CEO Scholarship Fund for Women" was established, and continues to be offered today.

Membership of The CEO Institute is by invitation only. To register your interest, click enquire.

 

 

 

 

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