Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption

Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption

by Shane Cragun, Kate Sweetman


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The Age of Disruption

Today’s disruptive, tumultuous, and ever-changing global business environment shows no signs of slowing. Authors Shane Cragun and Kate Sweetman believe it is time for a wake-up call to those hoping to thrive in the 21st century. Reinvention is the first business book to propose a simple algorithm, common principles, and set of tools that apply to both individuals and organizations facing disruptive and radical change. 

The ability to pivot quickly, profoundly, and effectively might be the most important core competency individuals and organizations must attain in order to prosper in the new economy. And it isn’t enough to be able to change when they have to; leaders must change before they have to, in proactive ways that allow their organizations to leverage incoming global shockwaves to accelerate performance.

Cragun and Sweetman use contemporary examples to drive important points home. Key strategies are couched in metaphors to create visual maps that will help the reader implement their new learnings at the moment of need. The stories and case studies are compelling, eclectic, and global, and take the reader beyond just the world of business. Reinvention includes chapter insights written by six global experts from six different geographical business regions around the globe. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626342866
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 07/26/2016
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Shane is a founding partner at SweetmanCragun, a global management consulting and training firm. He focuses on establishing Leader-Accelerators throughout the world at the individual, team, organizational, and societal levels. He has worked as an internal management consultant/change agent at a Fortune 500 High Tech Firm, a line executive at FranklinCovey, and a global external management consultant. He recently co-authored the Employee Engagement Mindset published by McGraw-Hill. Shane loves photography, anthropology, writing, and exploring different cultures. He speaks rusty Russian.

Kate is a founding partner at SweetmanCragun, a global management consulting and training firm. She is a “lifer” in the field of leadership development and its application to organizations and society. She has spent most of her time working internationally with clients. Kate is an entrepreneur, editor, researcher, writer, consultant, and coach. She recently returned from a three-year stint in Asia looking at leadership effectiveness in the 18 core Asian countries. Kate has done considerable work in the Middle East. She is a co-author of the fast-selling book The Leadership Code, published by Harvard Business Press. Kate is an expert chef, and invites all readers over to dinner when in Boston. She speaks rusty French.

Read an Excerpt


Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption

By Shane Cragun, Kate Sweetman

Greenleaf Book Group Press

Copyright © 2016 SweetmanCragun LLC
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62634-286-6




"Failure isn't fatal. But failure to change might be."

— John Wooden

Food Fights and Icebergs

Perhaps you've heard recently how the trillion-dollar US food industry is at a critical tipping point. More and more shoppers are opting for fresh, organic choices, and this is costing packaged food companies serious market share. In fact, the top twenty-five US food and beverage companies have lost more than $18 billion in value since 2009. And that trend is picking up steam.

An Edward Jones analyst suggested that the major food labels' fundamental existence is being challenged. The big questions in the food industry are these: can industry leaders reinvent fast enough to right the ship? And can they transition from being organizations that are decelerating to ones that are back on track?

Much of this depends on the eventual outcome of a powerful metaphor we discovered while researching this subject. A respected industry analyst offered this: "I would think of these big food companies like melting icebergs. Every year they become a little less relevant."

Wow. Melting icebergs.

With that, let's begin by asking four "Confront the Brutal Facts" questions to get the conversation started.

1. Melt-Rate: Is your professional or organizational iceberg melting? If so, at what rate? And why?

2. Relevance Trend: Are you and the organization you lead increasing in relevance in the eyes of customers and shareholders or decreasing in relevance? Why, or why not?

3. Adding Value: Do you continually push yourself and your organization to add greater value to customers and stakeholders? Why, or why not?

4. Internal vs. External Change: Is your current and projected rate of internal change greater than the current and projected speed of external change? Why, or why not?

How would you answer these questions for yourself and for the organization that you lead?

The Age of Disruption

We've coined the term Age of Disruption to describe the global business environment we currently work in. The term seems apt, because most of the changes that come our way are disruptive in nature. They disorient and disrupt the hard-earned flow state that many of us have settled into individually and organizationally.

We've all experienced that awkward feeling when colleagues begin chatting about a new technology that they love but we've never heard of. Suddenly, you get a queasy feeling that you are falling behind in an ever- changing world.

Add to that the fact that the total amount of information created in 2015 surpassed the zettabyte mark — a 1 with twenty-one 0s after it — and the prospect of staying current and relevant individually and organizationally begins to feel overwhelming.

Technology writer Michael S. Malone notes: "The higher level of anarchy we are living in will be exciting, but it will also be painful. Entire industries will die overnight, laying off thousands, while others will just as suddenly appear, hungry for employees. Continuity and predictability will be the rarest of commodities."

Recent research suggests that graduates leaving college today can expect to have at least sixteen different career changes during their work life.

Era of the Free Agent

Some talent futurists are predicting that nearly thirty-three percent of today's employees will eventually be working "on demand." This refers to the increasing preference of companies to hire freelancers for short-term contracts when the need arises, versus keeping fulltime staff on the payroll.

It seems the W-2 is making room for the rise of the 1099.

We like how Susan Ascher, a professional recruiter from New Jersey, boils it down to a simple thought when talking about the age of the 1099: "The long-standing social contract between companies and workers has been officially broken. A permanent job is now a temporary job disguised with benefits."

How Did We Get Here?

Our research suggests it was in 1981 that the world became aware that the global economy was beginning to transition to something never experienced before.

In 1981 Toyota, Honda, and Datsun (the Japanese Big Three) sold more cars in the United States than analysts had predicted; it was also the first year they sold their cars from their own dealerships. This was a game-changing event on a global scale that had never been seen before by global leaders and professionals.

Industry observers intuitively knew that something monumental was happening. But even then, no one predicted this global shockwave would soon be followed up by many others. Global competition had literally washed up on the shores of the US West Coast and had taken everyone by storm.

Detroit responded in disappointing ways. They continued to cling to their worldview that Japanese products were inferior, faulty, and of no threat. Detroit leaders could not fathom the idea that their economic moat could be penetrated by the Japanese. And this was despite front-page newspaper headlines that proclaimed such things as

100,000 Datsuns Arrive on Docks in Los Angeles. Inventory Sold in 90 Days!

In hindsight, it is clear that the introduction of global competition in the form of Japanese automobiles was the "shot fired across the bow" of the US business sector. It was also a loud signal to the global business environment that change was coming. The days of US businesses running on autopilot without robust competition, yet still making healthy profits, were on their way out.

The Global Shockwave 20

We began our historical research on the Age of Disruption by searching for and uncovering key events in the past that seemed to have a profound effect on today's business ecosystem.

We started our research in the post-war decade (1946) and marched forward to 2015. In total, we identified twenty powerful global events that occurred during these seven decades that seemed to truly rattle the birdcage. We named these events Global Shockwaves because of their powerful ability to shock and disrupt the status quo.

A shockwave is defined as "a widespread feeling of shock caused by an unexpected event."

When you view these global shockwaves from a strategic level, and analyze the sequence of their arrival, a clear and compelling picture develops as to why we operate today in such turbulent times.

The following timeline depicts the global shockwaves in order of occurrence. We also note the year that the global shockwave's ripple effect had the biggest effect on the psyche of global organizations and the leaders that led them. In some cases, the year noted is not when the actual shockwave was initially felt.

We have categorized these global shockwaves into five types.

Technology: Information and computing technologies.

Management theory: New ways to think about managing people, manufacturing products, and creating greater revenues, lower costs, and increased speed.

Economic: Wall Street–influenced fears, central banking actions, market fluctuations, and global supply and demand.

Global competition: Exporting or importing goods on a global scale.

Geo-Political: Tensions between nations caused by geographic, economic, religious, or political disputes.

It is interesting to note that forty percent of all global shockwaves are technology oriented. Going forward, the prediction is that the percentage of technology shockwaves will continue to climb in number.

Four of the global shockwaves were in the Management Theory category, and four were in Geo-Politics. Clearly, management thought leaders have had a crucial impact on how global business operates today, and geo-political challenges always shake things up.

Although only three global shockwaves were economic in nature, the second one — the Onset of the Global Economic Recession — continues to send tremors throughout all regions of the world and is continuing to have a devastating economic impact in Europe and parts of Asia.

Appreciating the twenty global shockwaves is helpful, but understanding the patterns behind each will better help business leaders more effectively predict new, incoming shockwaves and face them with greater confidence and certainty.

The Perfect Storm

In some cases, shockwaves can actually combine to create even larger disruptions than are typical. They can create "A Perfect Storm" situation in which entire industries and global regions are impacted.

In 1991, the Andrea Gail, a commercial fishing vessel out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, sank in the North Atlantic with her six-person crew. The crew had been fishing in the violent Grand Banks fishing grounds.

The last radio transmission from Captain Billy Tyne was "She's comin' on, boys, and she's comin' on strong." At the time of his transmission, Captain Tyne and his crew were right in the most ferocious part of the storm.

The cause of that fateful 1991 storm was the convergence of three powerful weather events at the same time. Although rare, and only occurring once every seventy-five years, when it does happen it creates what weather researchers call "the perfect storm."

In the Andrea Gail's case, two powerful opposing weather fronts created a monster northeaster. It then combined shortly thereafter with Hurricane Grace. This record storm produced wind gusts of up to 93 miles per hour and waves as high as sixty feet. It was a towering wave that eventually took the Andrea Gail under.

The Power of Cause and Effect

The flowchart below depicts an example of a Perfect Storm that happened in the global business environment in the mid-to-late 1990s. Several of the twenty shockwaves interacted to cause challenging situations.

Notice the cause-and-effect impact throughout the chain. To create the massive global layoff environment of the past two decades (the box on the far right), three powerful shockwaves occurred at virtually the same time: Reengineering, Outsourcing and Offshoring, and Global Competition. In 2004 alone, 3,170,000 people were laid off just in the United States.

The 21st-Century Competitiveness Cycle

We began this chapter asking four questions in order to start the conversation on the issue of not only surviving, but accelerating in the Age of Disruption. Let's do a deeper dive on the fourth question: "is our rate of internal change currently greater than the rate of external change?"

In the Age of Disruption, the ability to survive, thrive, and accelerate results — both individually and organizationally — is directly tied to your ability to outpace the change in your external environment.

The 21st-Century Competitiveness Cycle — or the ability to compete in the Age of Disruption — is based upon two Age of Disruption Principles that we encourage our clients to tightly align with and create metrics around. They are always in play no matter the market, industry, or geography.

Azim Premji, known as the Czar of the Indian IT revolution, was onto this notion when he wrote, "When the rate of change outside is more than what it is inside, be sure that the end is near." Mr. Premji is actually hinting at a harder-hitting truth: Extinction is inevitable when the above Age of Disruption Principles are violated.

Incoming Global Shockwaves Ahead

It's unlikely we will experience a cluster of five massive disruptive shockwaves like those that combined during the 1995–1998 time period. Each of these shockwaves by themselves had a powerful influence on today's global business environment. But together, they created a sonic boom that continues to be felt today.

Most futurists predict significant change over the next two decades, mostly from new technologies. But these same futurists agree that they foresee nothing in the shockwave pipeline as significant as the introduction of the personal computer, global telecommunications, and the Internet.

But you never know. And that is the lesson.

While we can't yet predict when or how the next global shockwave will manifest itself, one thing is certain: shockwaves will hit. And you and your organization do not want to be left isolated in the breakdown lane on the global highway watching the competition pass you by at superior speeds because they out-prepared you.

How prepared will you be when the 21st shockwave arrives at your doorstep?

Expert Insight: Murali Krishnamurthy

Our era is rightly called the Age of Disruption by the authors because the set of large forces defined in this book have dynamically interacted over the past 35 years to shift the very energy of our planet away from stability to turbulence. It will be a long time before those forces are spent. The future belongs to the people who are energized by the possibilities and to individuals, organizations, and societies that develop the capacity to capitalize on them.

The good news is that these individuals, organizations, and societies can deal with sudden and disruptive change — even get ahead of it — when they are alert to what is happening and when they have a roadmap for action coupled with the desire and discipline to act on it. The past 35 years have shown much success as well as failure.

Key Insights

The most important insights for me in this chapter were the following:

Global Shockwave 20

Consider for a moment that I am someone who left his native India before its economic liberalization as a young man in search of opportunity, and I am also someone who worked in the United States as an engineer during a technology boom and bust — and lost his engineering job in the process. I have both ridden and been pulled under by these shockwaves and fully understand their awesome power to both create and destroy.

Food Fights and Icebergs

Irrelevance can happen faster than it can be imagined. Even the largest and most powerful industries can be threatened by unexpected sources: from overseas, from a parallel industry, or from customers themselves.

21st-Century Competitiveness Cycle: Age of Disruption Principles 1 and 2

The demands on leadership will be greater and greater as the organization deals with change not as an objective to be met but as a vector quantity that must be managed dynamically virtually forever: an uncontainable energy with magnitude and direction but no real end.

Incoming Shockwaves

My former leader at Intel, Andy Grove, said famously, "Only the paranoid survive." People who spend their time up the mast, peering from the crow's nest, looking for trouble on the horizon, as well as opportunity, will eventually find both. The more keenly they look, the better chance they have of dealing with both well.

Era of the Free Agent

The explosion of entrepreneurship in India is a direct result of economic reforms. Many young Indians are grabbing this historic opportunity and running with it.

Application to My Career

It is impossible to read about these shockwaves and not see India being both battered and uplifted by them.

Battered when the Soviet Union fell, the ripple effect on the socialist Indian economy almost bankrupted the nation. It was uplifted when technology and globalization created unprecedented opportunities for outsourcing.

In 1991, as the economy slowed from even its sluggish "Hindu rate of return" of two to three percent to zero, the budget could no longer function under the multiple burdens of state control, government subsidies, tariffs and trade barriers, crippling red tape, and corruption. Only the actions of Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao and his team saved us by reinventing the Indian economy overnight from socialism to a much more free economy. They unleashed the energies that ultimately became India Inc.

India has also exported a large number of workers to many other countries, where they have thrived by reinventing themselves. Many have taken full advantage of the opportunities made possible by the shockwaves, have educated themselves, worked very hard, and excelled in technology, medicine, and many other fields.

Advice to the Reader

As an individual, you need to be prepared to do what it takes to thrive in the Age of Disruption. Doing so is often difficult. For Indians to thrive in the shockwaves facing our nation, they often had to make the very difficult choice to reinvent themselves in a new land. Indians traditionally live in very supportive networks of extended families. Any Indian who ventured abroad likely made a choice that was very unpopular and countercultural to his or her family.

Simply seeing the global shockwave is not enough. As an individual or as an organization, you must plan and prepare yourself to be strong enough and skilled enough to ride it. In my case, I pursued my bachelors and my masters in engineering in a foreign land. Are you willing to do what it takes to be prepared to thrive?


Excerpted from Reinvention by Shane Cragun, Kate Sweetman. Copyright © 2016 SweetmanCragun LLC. Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword xiii

Introduction: Shifting into a Higher Gear 1

Chapter 1 The Age of Disruption 13

Expert Insight: Murali Krishnamurthy, Founder and Chairman, Sankara Eye Foundation, India

Chapter 2 The Six Deadly Blindfolds 25

Expert Insight: Constantinos Loizides, CEO, Piraeus Bank Egypt, Cyprus

Chapter 3 The Reinvention Formula 47

Expert Insight: Phillip Meade, Division Chief, Spaceport Management and Integration, NASA's Kennedy Space Center, North America

Chapter 4 Assessing Your Need for Reinvention 73

Expert Insight: Claudio Fernandez-Aráoz, Author and Talent Management Recruiter, South America

Chapter 5 The Reinvention Roadmap 87

Expert Insight: Luciano Pezzotta, Founder and Managing Parmer, European Center for Strategic Innovation, Asian Operations

Chapter 6 Reinvention Accelerators 117

Expert Insight: Elin Hurvenes, Founder and Chair, Professional Boards Forum, Europe

Chapter 7 Ready, Aim, Reinvent! 149

Acknowledgments 159

Author Q&A 163

About SweetmanCragun 171

Customer Reviews