Constructive disruption through radical openness
The analogy to the business environment is obvious: the faster the upheavals in society, the more central openness becomes as a maxim for action. — Let’s look at the technology. In the second half of the 20th century, the core of life has changed little. Today’s 40-somethings grew up in an analog era where incremental logic prevailed: the idea that you improve products and companies incrementally. Cars became faster, safer and more comfortable, and supermarket products more diverse. The prototype of this incremental logic is German engineering, whose basic idea is: refinement and optimization.
For some years now, however, technologies have been following a disruptive logic. In banking, for example, FinTech is currently revolutionizing the industry, particularly visible in mobile payments. ATMs and EC cards will soon seem as antiquated to us as fax machines do today.
To do this, you have to take a closer look at the upheavals. “Disprution” does not mean that everything will now be different, for example that soon neither cars nor publishing houses will exist. Rather, the digital upheavals concern a decoupling of carrier and function. The function remains, but the carriers change. Newspaper publishers no longer distribute printed newspapers, but have redefined themselves in the abstract: as digital news companies. Automakers will soon no longer be selling cars to private individuals, but mobility concepts for cities or entire countries. — The needs remain constant, but the implementation changes radically.
Today, the focus must first be on the future. Less tradition is required, but more anticipation. The new role is: manage less, decide more. Be less traditionalist, act more agile and open.
This is also shown by a study conducted by the World Economic Forum, which asked what skills are needed to master the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. Creativity and critical thinking in particular will come to the fore in the future. Both skills are decidedly non-traditionalist and correlated with a high degree of openness.
In Europe, companies could still become much more open, creative and courageous. There have been too few great disruptive business ideas so far, from people who think as progressively as the founders of the GAFA companies. These successors of the hippies from California have chosen openness as their lifestyle.
Openness as a maxim for action means more responsibility for management, but also more creative opportunities for individuals.