29 Nov 2016 17:47 IST

Do you disrupt yourself to meet challenges?

We need to constantly reinvent ourselves to stay relevant in today’s fast-changing world

Disruption is the new normal. We see this in our market place every day. Uberisation of everything is only the beginning and more can be expected in the coming months and years.

Technology has been playing a major role in this, proving to be a clear inflection point for organisations. Automation and robotics are changing the way we work and manage ourselves.

Many decades ago, Peter Drucker predicted that organisations would have to reinvent themselves every 30 years or so to remain relevant. McKinsey estimates that this time has halved today. Organisations which do not reinvent once every 15 years are not likely to survive and succeed.

Personal disruption

Disruption also means a lot personally, to all professionals. So, the logical question to ask and answer is: Do we disrupt ourselves enough and often enough to remain relevant? An estimated 40 per cent of the jobs we see today are expected to disappear, thanks to technology and its associated impact. So how do you ensure that you stay relevant?

Individuals can disrupt themselves at least in the following seven ways:

1. Learning to take the right risks : When we take on new roles and responsibilities, we are actually at the bottom of the S-curve. This requires a clear understanding of new reporting structures and chains of command, and adapting to them. Nature favours risk-takers. People who avoid risks must think of what they might be missing out on by standing still.

2. Play to your distinctive strengths : On an on-going basis, it becomes necessary for us to understand our innate skills, and concentrate on the ones that spur our motivation to new levels, and those that invigorate others.

3. Hone natural gifts: Especially those that took hold during our childhood.

4. Consider others’ compliments as an appreciation of personal skills. These can offer insights into our hidden strengths.

5. Learn to distinguish between skills we are very good at and those that are hard won.

6. Interpret the challenges we face correctly, and identify if they are stretching our talent or draining our energy. This way, we can be careful when we choose which one to chase.

7. Be clear about the strengths that can turn into weakness when overused.

Passé ladders

The next most important aspect of disruption is recognising that career ladders are a passé. Today, we may have to step sideways or downwards in our career to learn and grow.

This is often referred to as career lattice, which is increasingly becoming the order of the day with organisations. It helps us take a break to go and acquire the skills and competencies we may need to succeed. It is about slowing down to speed up.

Disruption also means stopping by and taking a hard look at our list of assumptions, which often contain opinions and beliefs that have been collected over the years, which we thought would help us grow and develop. While most of these assumptions were perhaps valid when we started our career, they may not be very relevant today.

An ability to build in a healthy dose of paranoia and building check-points on our skills, competencies and choices will be key to disrupting ourselves and, in the process, emerge stronger than before.