4 Key Principles on How Companies Can Survive and Thrive Digital Disruption

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” – John Maxwell

Change is constant and as John Maxwell wrote, inevitable. However, the speed at which change has occurred in the past decade has surprised many legacy organizations and has made it extremely challenging for them to grow. As Jordan Banks, Managing Director of Facebook Canada put it, “fundamentally, everything is changing – industries, technologies, pop culture – everything.” So how do organizations ensure that they not only survive digital disruption, they thrive?

What we knew to be true a few years ago no longer applies. It’s time to rethink business models, how and where we sell products/services and how we engage our workforce. Here are a few basic principles Jordan Banks shared at the Canadian Club of Toronto’s breakfast event on November 2:

  1. Be nimble- Businesses that are succeeding today are because they are optimized for speed and can quickly adapt to changing technologies, industries and markets. Assess your current structures and identify the roadblocks or barriers that are preventing action and change within your organization.
  2. Attract and retain top talent- To attract and retain top talent, develop a strong strategy. According to a recent Forbes article, “To create a winning culture…you have to turn the tables and consider your employees. By knowing what motivates them to wake up every day and come to work, you can find a solution to the problem, increase your retention, and win top talent.”
  3. Be transparent- Nowadays, employees expect access to company information to fully understand how their position ties in with the overall mission. Forbes writer, Glen Llopis explains, “We are all living during a time when people want and expect their leaders to be more human, less perfect and at times a bit vulnerable – regardless of hierarchy or rank.” Develop organizational processes and structures to empower and enrich your team.
  4. Mobile comes first- There are 22 million Facebook users, 19 million of those use their mobile devices to access the social network. Mobile is not an option anymore, it is an imperative. Make sure you make it your first priority when going to market. Jordan Banks, during the event, recalled a time when engineers were excused from meetings if they mentioned the word desktop. Facebook was dedicated and focused on mobile, so much so, they re-trained all of their engineers.
  5. Have a bigger purpose- “Many entrepreneurs, executives, and investors are realizing that the best performing companies stand for something and contribute to the world” (Pink, 2009, p.133). It also drives employee performance, as explained in Daniel H. Pink’s book, Drive. In Mark Zuckerberg’s Open Letter during Facebook’s IPO, he clearly stated the company’s mission: “Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected. We think it’s important that everyone who invests in Facebook understands what this mission means to us, how we make decisions and why we do the things we do.”

Digital has affected organizations worldwide. Just with any change, business leaders need to learn and stay ahead of the curve to maintain competitiveness. In order to do so, companies should be innovating and experimenting with new ideas. Instead of looking at digital disruption as a negative, take this opportunity to reinvent your company or brand and take new opportunities for expansion and growth.

Pink, H. Daniel. (2009) Drive- The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

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