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In a time that requires HR leaders to leverage disruption, the old management systems no longer apply.


Every leader needs to know how fast-moving disruptors are changing what’s required from organizational management and leadership.

Organizations need to increase their speed, get better insights, and deliver better experiences to both customers and team members alike. This is the only way to ensure consistent growth and profits. In short, even if you’re currently in the lead, the pack behind you is picking up the pace. They’re hot on your heels and would like nothing better than to put you one step behind.

That’s reality. But what can a HR leader do to stay ahead? After all, we human beings are more or less built the same as we’ve always been. No one is a super hero. Just like everybody else, HR leaders need to put in their hours at work and then go home and have a private life. They need to get more done with the same human limitations.


You may ask, “How can any leader keep ahead of the relentless pace of disruption? Aren’t there too many moving parts?”

Relax. It’s easy to assume that all of the changes happening across the changing customer, emerging technologies, and economic shifts are far too complicated to ever understand. The good news is that assumption is wrong. Today’s leaders develop a core competency around future trends. They don’t need to understand the endless minutia of every little emerging technology, consumer behavior, or economic shift. If we can focus on these building blocks at a high level, we can begin to understand how these changes impact the way in which we deliver human experiences, technologies, and services, and ultimately how we serve to achieve sustainable results on strategy.


Too many organizations attempt to leverage disruption by taking baby steps at disruptive initiatives that include, benefits expectations, future-casting activities, innovation. employee experience design (EXD) and workforce engagement initiatives—and the list goes on and on. The leaders therefore assume that by taking a cursory approach to leveraging disruption they’ll stay ahead. The problem is that the rate and depth of change requires a holistic and comprehensive approach towards gaining better customer and market insights, while doing a far better job of maximizing the efficiencies and effectiveness of our teams and leaders. In other words, today’s disruption is changing everything, and how HR leaders lead is no exception.


Disruptive leaders are brave. Their bravery is revealed by their absolute willingness to lean into their own executive development by accepting and even driving the changes occurring both with in their organization and outside in the markets and economies they serve. HR leaders are now the innovation leaders within organizations. These new innovations will include a wide range of new methods to address managing remote employees, ways of increasing stakeholder engagement, productivity and project yield. Will include the use of new connected technologies and even the adoption of new wearable technologies to manage prevention, wellness and disease management. One of the areas within an organization that will experience the highest degree of enterprise innovation will be in the area of HR and benefits. The best leaders and HR will recognize the fact that they need to gain new insights and build new programs to be relevant in a time of massive change.


Today’s innovation leaders know the first step towards leveraging disruption is to recognize the world as it really is and not as they’d like it to be.

They know that wishful thinking will put them on the road to disaster.

Successful organizations chase truth, not success.

As people we achieve success only after we’ve been honest and truthful about what’s required to drive enterprise excellence. As a philosophical starting point, merely chasing “success” is misguided. If we aim only for success, we’ll never get it. Success is the end result of staying focused on the truth.

This applies to how we manage our teams. We need to be honest about what we’re asking them to do and then we need to address the realities of the challenges head-on. Disruption requires that we recognize what’s really happening and respond decisively, without thinking, “We can’t do that!”

There’s nothing wrong with success, but innovation leaders know that to stay ahead, you need to know exactly where you stand in the race.


To maintain innovation leadership, you need to:

  1. Identify and evaluate the sources of external disruption in your market—the emerging forces that threaten your organization’s viability. What might threaten your supply chain? What new competitors are rising? Are your customers coming back again and again, or are they defecting to competitors? Identify all of the new technologies that will change stakeholder engagement and connectivity to determine their relevancy within your enterprise. Develop innovation as a core competency.
  2. Identify and evaluate the sources of internal disruption that are brewing right now within your organization. Are your employees fully engaged? Is your benefits program on track? Are you personally open and receptive to new ideas?
  3. Make sure you’re getting real information, not suppositions or platitudes. Do you seek critical viewpoints, or subtly discourage them? Do you welcome disruption as a catalyst for improvement, or does it irritate you? Do you promote data that represents stark reality, or data that makes you look good to your stakeholders?

Watch all three of my keynote addresses below for more insight. 


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