Unicorns, once rare, mythical creatures, today are in abundance, scaling exponentially and challenging the sustainability of legacy organisations, business models and leadership principles.
The intriguing questions however are, what makes them so unique and exclusive to the start-up ecosystem? Why existing organisations are compulsive bystanders to this wave of innovation, reinvention and disruption? Is it gross incompetence, complacence or compulsion?
We know, neither of this is true. Large corporations for time immemorial have been at the forefront of change; the torch bearers of transformation, innovation and market creation. The mystery therefore is how and where they lost their mojo? Why, despite access to the best resources and talent, they keep failing in seizing this opportunity?
In a multi- part series, I attempt answering these questions with insights to help successful organisations and their leaders introspect, selectively adapt and cautiously transition with “New Age Thinking” into the “New Age World” of business and innovation.
Based on my personal experiences working alongside startups and legacy organisations, I have zeroed down on three core “principles” that truly define and differentiate this new ecosystem. It is the absence or lack of understanding of these pillars that restrain legacy organisations transitioning into the new normal. Any attempts to change therefore are counterproductive and futile. We discuss these at conceptual level followed by detailed sessions in my subsequent notes, distilling and demystifying each with actionable solutions.
1. New Science - New Rules
Organisations for long have been used to New Technology - Same Rules; the technology this time however, is not incremental, it does not even replace the old, it completely displaces it. The advancement in AI, coupled with convergence of technologies has resulted into a whole new science. It is akin to convergence of steam and wheel that displaced the 10,000 year dominance of agrarian economy. This new science is alien to conventional thinking, a complete break away from the past. Any attempts therefore are failing, further eroding confidence in the ability to adapt, align and reinvent. This is the beginning of an era of New Science with New Rules the old ones have gone obsolete.
2. New Science - Creativity Catalyst for New Markets
This new science is the ensemble of all fictional characters giving supernatural powers to germinate, inspire and allure a new breed of customers, each diced into hitherto inconceivable, incomprehensible and insurmountable new markets and opportunities. This has not only shackled the conventional mindsets it has provided wings to young entrepreneurs creating the third dimension; changing the perception of time, convenience and gratification; abandoning concepts of ownership, space, intermediaries and hyper-ventilating in areas of personalisation, exponentiality and nano-solutioning. In short, a big leap from the conventional Phillip Kotler, Michael Porter and Linearity models of business, strategy and growth.
3. New Science - New DNA (Old DNA gone Rogue)
The culture of an organisation is at the core of nurturing, promoting and aligning with this new age science and contemporary practices. The old DNA, once, idolized to cultivate, defend and expand business of legacy organisations, is now going rogue. It attacks its very own, self-immunizing cells, hindering progress and much desired transformation. This is the single most factor paralyzing legacy organisations, stifling innovation, restraining change and resisting transformation. Any attempt to change without addressing the DNA of the organization and its leaders is futile.
Does this mean the end of legacy organisations? Definitely not! After all they have everything that start-ups yearn for; resource, network, wisdom, customers, data, access and above all demonstrated credibility and trust of stakeholders. We also understand they have commitments to their existing stakeholders. We know they have to protect their today and the tomorrow. The answer, therefore, is not a simple switch on and switch off.
In the follow up article we will deal with all of this, the science, the art and the strategic and operational elements of each of these pillars. We will demystify the ethos and principles that define and differentiate unicorns and their success in context of the much-desired need for re-invention of legacy organizations. A process that could help them stay relevant, competitive and partake in this opportunity making faster, deeper and larger impacts.
Editor's Note: This is the second part of the author's 3 part series on leading and winning in disruptive times. Mr. Raj Grover's first article is "Decimation - The New Normal" and the third article is "Transformation of Body, Mind and Soul of Organisations"
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