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Why the Book “No More Business As Usual” Matters

By Steven Bowman

The last decade has witnessed revolutionary changes to business across the globe. Today’s business leaders have to wrestle with diverse, intricate and multifaceted challenges: globalization, technological advances, digitization, climate change, organizational sustainability, a global credit crunch—the list is endlessly growing. There are substantial and vast changes yet to come that will disturb and alter every aspect of business and transform everything the way we know it today. Organizations must constantly change if they are to flourish and thrive in an increasingly precarious business environment. If your business strategy is not prepared for the future, your business could become irrelevant. In this complex business environment, doing business-as-usual is a formula for business derailment and financial meltdown.  


The 21st century is a thrilling century full of challenges and different possibilities. Businesses will become more multifaceted and change at a faster pace. It presents plenty of changes that will impact your business in the future. This can create a devastating experience for organizations that are slow to distinguish and take care of the elemental changes in economic and societal demands.  


To prosper and thrive in the decade ahead, leaders have to think differently about reinvigorating their business. They must be willing to let go of all the timeworn conventional business models that keep their business from being remarkable.


Managing Uncertainty


Complex and real-time changes will become the norm for business in the 21st century and beyond. Leaders will face extraordinary new challenges and must learn to think differently about their role and how to fulfill it. Indeed, the demands the rapidly changing business climate will have on leaders will be unprecedented and intensely challenging.


Clearly, the rules of the game have changed. Normal business practices based on traditional business models are not working anymore. Leaders often find themselves functioning in a bewildering new space in which little is certain, the pace is much faster, and the dynamics are more complex. Unless leaders choose to radically change their leadership mode, starting from now, their organizations will become irrelevant.


Food for thoughtWhat can your organization do to circumvent the hazards connected with incompetent leadership and better prepare its existing and forthcoming leaders for changes that are yet unforeseen? What can leaders do to stay on top of all the things they need to know to do their job?


These new times have brought with them an array of opportunities and different possibilities. Organizations will have to radically adapt their cultures, structures, systems and processes in order to turn change into opportunity. To seize these new opportunities and possibilities, leaders must be willing to challenge traditional perceptions and stop focusing on the past. They must become more forward-oriented, so that they can perceive new and different possibilities, trends, opportunities and challenges that will influence and impact their future. The successful companies will be those where leaders have the capability to flexibly respond to unanticipated challenges.


Be the change


As the world rapidly changes, leaders must be able to not only lead change but also themselves ‘Be the change.’  This is exemplified by the well-known quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Those who choose to  ‘Be the change’ will have an opportunity to change the world in ways their predecessors never imagined.


The key to success for business leaders will be their willingness to expand beyond this reality. They have to go beyond everything they’ve ever thought was real in this reality and go to a place where they can create and generate something that’s beyond their imagination, and beyond what this reality is willing to have, create or generate.


Developing the capacity as a leader to become aware of future possibilities, to envision future trends as well as challenges will be an essential part of leading the 21st century enterprise. Leaders must be able to navigate a complex and fast changing business environment. They also need to develop a capacity to deal with challenges, disruptions and chaos in the face of uncertainty. Future business environments will be different from what we currently have, where the challenges and issues organizations face will be changing at an incredibly rapid speed. Business executive can’t lead their business based on leadership archetypes from the past and expect to meet the challenges as the world rapidly changes.


Leading from the edge of possibility, in an age of revolutionary change


Organizations depend upon astute and adept leadership to guide them through unprecedented changes.  Profound changes in the early years of the 21st-century and countless challenges have forced leaders worldwide into uncharted territory. To succeed in the shifting business landscape, leaders must rethink their historical views and must consciously re-examine what it takes to succeed.


Leaders of the 21st-century will need to expand their perception about the possible and probable future, have potent strategic awareness to perceive different possibilities, powerful insights into emerging trends that might impact the organization, sincere openness to change with no fixed point of view, have the courage to be a nonconformist, being functional with contextual reality, able to change and transform on the dime, and lead increasingly diverse and independent teams over which they may not always have direct authority.


To successfully develop this blend of skills and attributes – and adopt what is, in effect, a ‘conscious leadership’ style – they may need to abandon much of the assumptions, points of view and behavior that propelled them to the top of their organizations in the first place.