Even our thoughts about disruption are being disrupted. Is it radical change? Is it total displacement? Do we need entire new paradigms? Can we manage it? Is it avoidable? Is it permanent or temporary? Is it reversible? The common mistake we make is to minimize its effect and then “beat” it into a shape that we understand and manage it from there. The challenge is to lead inside a wave of disruption, the art is to initiate disruption to our own benefit. If we only respond to disruption, we have lost the game already.
We are increasingly engulfed by a disrupted world. Our ways of work are irrevocably changed. Our futures will not be the same as where we come from and are presently. Disruption and the future go hand-in-hand. How do we prepare for disruption? By making sense of the future landscapes that we will navigate on. How do we lead others into coming revolutions, such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution that we experience at present?
What is disruption? Disruption is the interruption or disturbance of the accepted norm that becomes a force that changes the way things are done, values, societies and often beliefs. It is so abrupt and impactful that there is often not time to prepare for it. To thrive in disruption, we need to navigate landscapes of the future. When is this future? The future is at this moment, tomorrow and thereafter, often stretching beyond an era in time yet to realise, that lies outside the everyday planning, strategic management and intervention scope.
The future approaches at different speeds for different business environments. We can thus shape the future to create landscapes from our imagination. To thrive in the unknown, even the short-term unknown, we need leaders with the courage and skills to venture into and beyond the immediate future. Leaders shaped for disruption are at ease with fast evolution, revolution and the transitions which take place among eras of technology, business and economies. Although they cannot always anticipate disruptions, they are prepared to be thrown into them and guiding others through the turbulent and complex eras of change.
The Graduate School of Technology Management (GSTM) of the University of Pretoria and the Team Building Institute (TBi) have joined forces to create a leadership development concept – Leadership in a Disrupted World. This is a learning and participative journey that puts future perspective to themes that leaders need to address to shape, influence and navigate disruptive landscapes that they will guide others on. The journey will unlock the combined knowledge of future aware leaders for being at ease with disruption and creating an environment where collaboration, teaming and personalisation are used to draw on experience and to lead towards future leadership qualities to deal with disruptions of many kinds. This experience is ideal for all leaders in a broad spectrum of industry where, especially engineering and technology management play a disruptive role, and change leads to complex environments evolving rapidly and need to be dealt with. Leaders that find that existing leadership theories fall short to assist them in handling current and future challenges should be seeking new ways of thinking about the future and to prepare themselves and their organisations for disruption.
The GSTM has graduated many Masters and PhDs in Engineering Management, Project Management, and Technology and Innovation Management students over its existence of more than 30 years. This has resulted in a common body of knowledge of engineering and technology management. Engineers that qualified through the GSTM are playing a leadership role in their industries, academia and government in Africa. With the speed of change brought about by technology, lifestyles and geo-political influences, these leaders have to remain resilient to future disruption. The GSTM has built future thinking into its courseware and research and now offers this understanding in the context of future leadership as a continued service to its alumni and other industry leaders through this workshop.
TBi supports a vision to improve self-understanding, intra- and interpersonal relationships in a social or team context. This unique value proposition (scientific method of training) distinguishes TBi from other service providers. TBI’s approach is to integrate inter- disciplinary concepts that are usually viewed as separate entities The TBi methodology also known as Adventure-related Experiential Learning (AEL), finds its roots in the disciplines of Psychology, Philosophy, Human Movement Sciences and Business. The AEL method of learning guarantees immersivity, novelty and engagement of participants in discovering new perspectives to facilitate change.
Dr Anthon Botha is a physicist, strategist and future thinker. He has more than 30 years of experience in the management of science, engineering, technology and innovation. He spends a lot of time imagining the future, creating mental images for leaders of what is to be. He developed novel ways for future thinking and has used this in both academia and consulting to assist leaders to think strategically about the future after painting future landscapes and making choices on their preferred futures. He currently provides extensive business consulting in the management and commercialisation of knowledge, technology and innovation and facilitates debates and events in the field of science, engineering and technology. He is a part-time academic at the GSTM
Dr Chris Heunis holds a DPhil from the University of Pretoria. He specialises in Organisational Development and has been consulting locally and internationally for the past 25 years. He co-founded TBi as a niche company that specialises in interpersonal and intrapersonal behavioural dynamics. He appeared on several radio and TV- programmes including Carte Blanche, Business Beat, Maatband, Take 5 and recently on Prontuit. He believes that the success of business leadership starts with being mindful of the needs of others.
Content provided by the University of Pretoria