Few established organizations set aside time to come up with game-changing ideas. Most meetings are designed to produce incremental changes or strategic shifts.
Rarely do you find an established organization trying to create a future that is radically different than what exists as their current day-to-day reality.
This is why most organizations are blindsided by disruptive competition: they couldn’t see them coming because they didn’t come from the competition they were monitoring.
Even when a potentially-disruptive competitor comes on the scene, organizations are slow to admit that it will have an effect on their business until it’s too late. This is usually because the disruptive competition doesn’t fit into the organization’s concept of what their competition looks like: it’s just a bit too different to be true competition.
The most obvious example of this is the way almost every retailer treated Amazon: even over a decade after Amazon had its IPO in 1997, many brick and mortar businesses were refusing to change their user-unfriendly websites because they only perceived predominantly brick-and-mortar retailers as their competition at the time. Two decades after that IPO, you could say Amazon is now THE competition and many retailers are scrambling to compete in a business environment in which they are struggling to understand how to compete.
Business as usual can only be usual for so long.
One of the reasons businesses struggle to adjust and fail to see the need to adjust is that they lack the practice of thinking radically.
Thinking radically different is a practice; it’s a skill that can be cultivated. And, it begins with making creative sessions a regular part of business operations.
These are not the creative sessions most businesses engage in: they’re not the what is our new ad campaign or how do we solve a problem that just came up. That type of creative thinking is valuable and necessary but it isn’t radical; it’s not going to create a future that is that different from today.
Radical thinking is about scheduling time to daydream. It’s about scheduling time to practice imagining what the future could look like five or ten or twenty years down the line.
Thinking in this way has two benefits: It allows you to develop scenarios that may happen ahead of time so you can more quickly see variations of them when they happen and adjust to them when they do. And, it gives your organization practice in being creative, so that when creative problem solving is essential, you’ve already developed the skills.
This isn’t to say every team should be doing this all of the time. But, some of the teams should at least be doing this some of the time.
It will enhance your organization’s ability to solve day to day problems, envision a brighter future, play the long game, and more quickly react to disruptive competitors.
In fact, it may even make you the disruptive competitor.