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It’s Time to Have a Frank Talk With Your Leadership Team About the Future

We’ve all seen firsthand how innovations create new products and categories, while disrupting and eliminating others. From being able to …

We’ve all seen firsthand how innovations create new products and categories, while disrupting and eliminating others. From being able to sell to customers on the other side of the world with a touch of a button to smart, mobile technology, electric cars and now 3D printing, innovation is everywhere, but it’s not easy to figure out in advance what’s around the next corner or how fast it’s coming.

And a recent survey by Clayton Christensen’s consulting firm Innosight, “The Strategic Confidence Gap,” shows that executives are concerned about their ability to predict, keep up with and overcome what lies ahead. Nearly half (42%) of survey respondents were not confident that their company was ready for a major transformation they expected to happen over the next five to 10 years.

“Nearly half (42%) of survey respondents were not confident that their company was ready for a major transformation they expected to happen over the next five to 10 years.”

As I was reading a press release about the study, I wondered, exactly which executives are concerned? And then I realized, with 800 executives across 20 sectors interviewed, they are a representative sample of your executives. So I began thinking, do you really know how your executives feel about your company’s ability to compete in the new age? When was the last time you asked them or had a frank conversation about competition and the future?

If you’re not sure, perhaps this is a good topic for your next leadership meeting. As the head of the company, your people are used to saying “yes, sir” or “yes, ma’am” and not questioning your requests or your motives. Some of them may feel comfortable some of the time telling you a particular plan is not going to work, or adding a wild and crazy idea to the discussion—but all of them—even at the EVP level—are not going to feel comfortable doing that all of the time.

I think it’s a pretty good assumption that your executive team has thoughts and feelings about the future of your business that they haven’t shared with you. Now would be a good time to find out what they are. After all, somewhere in there is bound to be a great, innovative idea.

By setting aside 15 minutes in your regular meetings to dialogue about the future, you will be able to hear what’s really on their mind rather than what’s on your agenda memo. This will help you move from the 42% group to the more confident 58%.

About Lynn Russo Whylly

Lynn Russo Whylly