Successful leaders today must challenge the status quo, abandon standard processes, and embrace creative disruption, according to thought leaders at this year's World Business Forum.
Held in New York City last week, the 2014 World Business Forum gathered a unique group of speakers focused on challenging the status quo and forging new paths to growth.
Among the speakers included former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, writer Malcolm Gladwell, TOMS Founder & Chief Shoe Giver Blake Mycoskie, and Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert.
Their conclusion: Have a vision but get ready to abandon it to respond to changing business conditions. Here are some sound bites from the event:
In his segment, Kip Tindell, chairman and CEO of The Container Store, spoke about how putting employees first isn't only the right thing to do; it's also become a successful business strategy for the brand. "When an entire organization is mindful of their wake, it adds up to an unassailable business advantage," he said.
Serial entrepreneur and X Prize Founder Peter Diamandas tested the audience, asking them if their companies were breaking through with crazy ideas or are they linear in everything they do? "That disconnect between us as linear thinkers and what's growing exponentially is where it's at," he told them.
In his speech about transformation and disruptive innovation, Gladwell relayed the story of shipping innovator Malcolm McLean who reinvented shipping with his lightweight crates and therefore single-handedly jumpstarted the global economy. During this discussion he listed three traits of a successful entrepreneur: 1. Open and creative, 2. Conscientious--having the ability to follow through on their ideas to make things happen, and 3. Disagreeable--the kind of person who isn't concerned if everyone around them thinks they're crazy.
Finally, Columbia Business School professor Rita McGrath spoke about sustainable competitive advantage, saying, "Continuously make changes to adjust your operations as the world changes. You don't want to be so stable and inert that you can't respond."
She three rules for achieving this:
1. Healthy disengagement. Very few companies have processes for making that happen. "If you buy the idea that competitive advantages come and go then you need to handle this."
2. Deft resource allocation: Separate power structures from resource allocation process. "If you let that person in charge of the business control the resources that business generates you will tend to be in defensive mode. You need a different mechanism."
3. Innovation proficiency - the need for a proficient leader who can hear information. "The scariest thing I hear executives say is, 'don't bring me any surprises,'" she said.