In the age of the Digital Industrial Revolution the business world is experiencing fundamental changes. A rapid progress in technology, the rise of new innovative businesses that are being demanded and endorsed by a thoroughly interconnected Generation Y are the key indicators of the second Industrial Revolution we are facing. In this new era, MINT and CASH will be the critical success factors, which will be discussed in this article.

My preceding article initiated the topic by asking a pivotal question: “Are you a disruptor or are you being disrupted?” Besides characterizing the revolutionary era we are undergoing, I also established the fact that we must internalize change as an imperative to maintain a competitive business (as discussed in my second article “Transform or Die”).

Traditional business models are no longer ahead of the game. We now live in an ubiquitous digital world of APIs, Algorithms and ‘Internet of Things’ explosion. Potential customers can be reached online, anytime and anyplace; they form a new generation of people living with a different set of values that most of us from Generation X can barely understand. Disruptive startups, such as Uber or AirBnB, are rapidly rising from the ground, featured and leveraged by a global community, which increasingly conduces to a sharing economy and redefines the very core of economical values and definitions.

Ignite the change

As a consequence, understanding the necessity of transformation is essential. Business leaders now have to set sail into an infinite sea of possibilities that lies ahead. Start transforming your organization and tackle the Herculean Task challenged by the Digital Industrial Revolution referenced as the 4th industrial revolution at this year World Economic Forum in Davos.

However, is there an ultimate guide on how to transform your corporation and stay successfully in the game? Read on…

A few weeks ago, I was invited to hold the keynote speech at this year’s MARS Apprentice in Hamilton, Ontario. Apart from being an exceptional opportunity for the sharing of knowledge between industry leaders and young business talents, the MARS program is a unique approach to business education in the fields of Marketing, Advertising, Retail and Sales.

I focused my presentation on how M.I.N.T. and C.A.S.H. are critical tools for transformation, forming the Zen of disruptive companies and leadership.

The Principles of Business Transformation

Organizational capabilities are the first hub to disruptiveness when converting into a new business model. The idea of M.I.N.T. describes 4 concurrent key pillars crucial to enable transformation:

M – Mindset

Enable yourself and your company for mental growth hacking and don’t be reluctant to think and act like a startup. Be open to what seems impossible, because anything is possible. Your attitude is paramount for building the right mindset amongst your teams and leaders of your organization. Let your strong mindset establish a fruitful soil for innovation. Instead of challenging new ideas before they even start to spark, embrace and extend them.

Take risks, but master your fears

I – Innovation

Many articles have been written on disruptive innovation, a wave of change initially coined ‘re-engineering’ that started in the 90’s by HBR, Clayton M. Christensen, in which innovation is understood as an outcome of new technologies, fresh business strategies, and new ways of customer service. Having the right mindset, you don’t question the value of a technical and social-cultural evolution, but concentrate your energies on innovative ideas and ask “What if?” Push boundaries, be venturous, but master your fears. Get inspired outside of your comfort zone, look through the eyes of your customer and develop organizational empathy. Let innovation be the linkage through all levels of restructuring your business. Do mistakes and learn from them. Innovate at every level and at every part of your organization. Create operational excellence as foundation for creativity that will enable you to push the boundaries instead of wasting time trying to fix the basics.

Excellence as foundation for creativity

N – Network of Capabilities

Highly successful disruptive startups, leaders and companies are working like a network, leveraging every strength of each individual in the organization – regardless of the organizational hierarchy. Create networks to forge innovations quickly. Think outside the box and leverage the forces of your network. Utilize talents and create teams according to their expertise in order to benefit the success of a project or product, not according to rigid hierarchies. Promote diversity of strengths and reach your company goals more efficiently.

Communicate & Inspire the Change

T – Transformation Excellence

Most companies that try to transform are failing due to the lack of a formal change management process, precisely because an excellent Change Management is crucial to successful transformation. Creating a startup, innovative mindset rises from a crisp and clear vision and a coherent strategy, hence having courage and commitment to the actions you take. A structured change plan should not be undervalued to manage the changes that will affect the entity of your organizational framework. Every individual in your organization needs to have a clear understanding of your vision. Enable them to be part of it and watch all transformational actions connecting and contributing to the bigger vision of becoming a disruptive organization. On the contrary, failing in doing so will create impatience, lack of understanding of decisions made, and most importantly, it won’t create fertile soil for your network of capabilities. Driving transformational excellence should be a significant matter of your transformational investment.

Redefining leadership

Besides building on organizational capabilities, refining leadership competencies constitutes the second critical area of a “Disruptive Zen”. The 4 principles of the C.A.S.H. model approach leadership imperatives for the digitally industrialized world.

C – Connected Leaders

Leaders of transforming or already disruptive organizations need to be strongly connected with their company’s environment and to themselves. They should be observing and listening continuously, further creating time to absorb and process signals. Disruptive leadership requires a balanced and grounded head with a vision, a broad understanding of both personal strengths and non-strengths and their network of capabilities.

In a recent presentation, Estelle Metayer Founder and President of Competia, explained how, back in the early days of the first Industrial Revolution, canary birds were used as early warning system for toxic gases as they showed an earlier reaction to the toxin as the miner did. A connected leader needs to build his/her network of “canary birds”, sending him signals of any changes or any new situation, thus accepting that every leader has a set of strengths and non-strengths. Connected leaders need to create an environment that enables time to think and to absorb all these signals, to leverage the network of capabilities and continuously adapt strategy.

A – Agile

Walking on unpaved roads is the new standard. Get used to it. Leadership in a disruptive organization means being able to take and evaluate risks, and learn from your mistakes. Agile in all respects, you will have to understand that not every effort taken can be measured. However, leverage the strengths of your network and utilize talents in your organization to give you unfiltered insights and early warnings. Push boundaries, let the idea lead the way, and even now and again follow a good feeling.

S – Sharing Wisdom

Be passionate about sharing wisdom in any direction and learn from it. Listen to inspirational and educational learnings from your network or lost wisdoms, be able to build on them to grow a corporate culture of sharing the good and the bad.

Are you a talent gardener?

H – Human to Human leader

Rather than stressing the role as company manager, disruptive leaders need to act as constant coach for their talents and teams. Ambitious and passionate talents are the key to success. The ability of a business leader to sense the potential of talents, to foster and inspire them and lead with humility and humanity, will have a sustainable impact on your company’s presence and future. Not only will you create sustainable success, but also build an organization whose talents will want to work for it, as the company operates with values.

Finding one’s Zen

Ultimately, there is no perfect recipe for transformation as every business needs to pave its own road. However, you will most likely find your own perfectly balanced blend of actions, the “Zen”, implementing M.I.N.T. and C.A.S.H. into your journey to a disruptive company and leadership. Creating your own recipe with M.I.N.T. and C.A.S.H. will build your master plan to become a disruptive organization, generating unmatched customer values and highly motivated and talented employees.

Do you have the mindset it takes to throw your legacy systems overboard? Can you master your fears? Given a toolset for transformation in times of the Digital Industrial Revolution, are you brave enough to start working on your Zen?

Are you becoming a disruptor or are you still being disrupted? Join me on the Quest for Answers. The upcoming article will discuss further aspects of business transformation and how I.C.E. can become the toolset for disruptive leaders to lead disruption. Further articles will also outline examples from unanticipated companies, which are continuously disrupting their business model. Follow me on Twitter for continuous updates or subscribe to the newsletter and get the next articles straight into your inbox.