The session is moderated by Kavi Gupta, content and community manager at Strategyzer. Our host is Alex Osterwalder, our founder and the co-author of influential books like "Business Model Generation" and "Value Proposition Design". Alex's expertise and efforts with Strategyzer have centered on unraveling the patterns that rule corporate disruption and finding processes that remedy or in some way master it. Joining him is Whitney Johnson, a visionary in management thinking. Her pioneering work, including a forthcoming book, delves into individual and personal disruption.
In an age where organizations grapple with unprecedented disruptions, the significance of a resilient A-team cannot be overstated. Whitney's insights and perspectives together with Alex's and Strategyzer's experience, offer a holistic view of tackling disruption from both the organizational and individual vantage points.
Sailing the S-curve: Gauging disruption and mitigating vulnerability
Whitney Johnsons' presentation starts by acknowledging that many of you who are listening to this webinar, or reading this article have disrupted your competition in the past, and perhaps are still doing so. You may be riding high, but you still sometimes wake up in the middle of the night wondering if you're becoming vulnerable, or if your company is about to be disrupted. If you're looking for a quick way to gauge whether or not that might be happening, take a look at where your workforce is on the S-curve. I want to introduce this idea and notion of gauging and analyzing that.
I recently had a conversation with one of my CEO clients. He called me to tell me that one of his key people had just announced that she was leaving. While he knew that she wanted a job closer to home, he had the feeling that she didn't like working there, and perhaps more importantly, didn't like working for him. As a boss, you want to be great. People come to work for you because they believe that with you, they can bring their dreams to work. However, when you're trying to get things done, you may unintentionally become the type of boss who needs people to stay where they are and do what they've always done. You may be pushing your talent out the door, and it's not the ping pong table's fault. In fact, about 3 million people quit their jobs every month in the United States, which is about 15% of the working population every year. This means that right now, one of your top performers may be on the verge of leaving. This revolving door is costing you time and money. It's the innovator's dilemma, but with people. It shouldn't be this way.
What I've learned, having been a stock analyst on Wall Street and then co-founding an investment firm with Clayton Christensen at the Harvard Business School– he wrote The Innovator's Dilemma– is that the theory of disruption that we apply to products also applies to people. I've spent the last five years researching and codifying a framework of personal disruption so that you have a structure to scale a business, build a team, or get your people to be more innovative. How do you stop the revolving door? How do you avoid being disrupted because you're stopping the revolving door? How do you ship even more product? And how do you become a talent magnet and a boss that people want to work for?
Have you ever thought about what it would have been like to be the first European to visit Sydney, Australia? Or to discover the Hawaiian Islands? Captain James Cook was one of the greatest explorers and map makers in history, mapping a third of the globe, and his maps are still in use 200 years later. However, without the talent spotters who recognized and developed his talent, he may have never achieved any of these things.
Captain Cook's story is a reminder of the importance of mentorship and guidance. He was a young boy from a poor family in England, but the Lord of the local banner recognized his giftedness and paid for his schooling. When he felt called to the sea, a ship owner took him on as an apprentice. After working his way up the ranks in the merchant Navy and eventually joining the Royal Navy, an up-and-coming officer brought him along.
While we all want to boldly go where no one has gone before, we also crave predictability. Disruption and change are essential for innovation, but they can challenge our current ways of thinking and doing things. This is where the S-curve model, popularized by E.M. Rogers in 1962, comes in. It helps us gauge how quickly new innovations will be adopted and make the unpredictable predictable.
At the low end of the S-curve, growth is slow, and it feels like a slog. But with effort and time, we can roar into competence, engagement, and confidence. As we approach mastery, things get easier, but we may also get bored.
Just like an ocean is made up of many waves, your organization is made up of many S curves. Building an A team that can effectively navigate change is crucial, with 70% of people in the sweet spot of engagement, 15% at the low end, and 15% at the high end.