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Increasingly unpredictable times demand a new approach – Akiva Beebe explains how we might learn from frontier markets


ow can leaders manage change, make crucial strategic decisions and lead the business

when the speed of change is so unpre- dictable? Are the change management processes equipped to future-proof organisations for the ‘tsunami’ that is about to strike and in many cases has already destroyed entire industries? In January 2016, Klaus Schwab,

founder of the World Economic Forum, commented that the world is unprepared to deal with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which “comes on us like a tsunami. Te speed is not to be compared with last revolutions and the speed of this revolution is so fast that it makes it difficult or even impos- sible for the policy makers to follow up with the necessary regulatory and legislative frameworks … My concern, however, is that decision makers are too often caught in traditional, linear (and non-disruptive) thinking or too ab- sorbed by immediate concerns to think strategically about the forces of disrup- tion and innovation shaping our future". ‘Managing’ change in a predictable

market, with linear growth trajec- tories, incremental changes, core

competencies models, and rational consumer behaviours are no longer applicable in most industries. Tis article focuses on aspects of change management from within highly vol- atile markets, where tried-and-tested processes and methods seemingly do not exist. Tere are organisations that are not just surviving this tsunami, but have become stronger and capitalised on the unpredictable. Tis will be the predominant theme of this article, understanding fringe organisations, not generally on the Western mar- ket's radar that have extensive expe- rience in leveraging radical changes to their competitive advantage. Te definitions and the questions

we ask, determine what we will meas- ure. Tus, the contextual framing and underpinning mindset that informs our definitions, if misinformed, due to sig- nificant market changes, can ultimately lead us to measuring the wrong things and hence see no impact. We will begin with a definition of ‘change manage- ment’, then consider the benefit of a simple change management formula, and finally explore some radical out- siders’ responses to ‘wicked problems’.

Change management

Defining ‘change management’ is an extensive endeavour, and out of the scope of this article, but a thin slice definition, based on Kennedy Consult- ing & Research Advisory, define change management consulting as providing “clients with a structured approach us- ing tools, processes, skills, technologies, and principles to transition individuals, teams, and organisations from a current state to a desired future state. It draws on capabilities across strategy, oper- ations, and technology” .Te change management value chain touches on an organisation’s entire ecosystem from strategy, engagement, assessment, communications, implementation, measurement and enablement.

Simplify complexity

In Margaret Heffernan’s masterful book Wilful Blindness: why we ignore the obvious at our own peril she argues that by building organisations so large and so complex we often end up being unable to see how they really work. Te chal- lenge this poses is that it often removes the leaders from the reality of what they have built. As complexity increases, the

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