Open any newspaper or news magazine – online or in print – and within minutes of reading its contents, one starts to get overwhelmed with the negative and unsettling information that is reported.
The ugliness, the widespread violence, the lack of justice, disappearing jobs, the political theatrics, the effects of climate change and the general absence of uplifting or inspiring stories, leave one cold and worried. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. So do millions of people around the globe – irrespective of where they live.
Today, Information and Communication technologies, and the ubiquity of affordable devices that can offer us information, and which enable us to create and share rich content on our own, have dramatically changed how we use information. Unless you choose not to look at your Smartphone/device, you will be blasted relentlessly, and 24/7, not just with information, but also with the feedback of irate customers, their opinions, half-truths spread by unscrupulous competitors, as well as fact and fiction in equal measure – all in real-time.
Add to this the rapid innovations taking place in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and we are truly visualizing a New World that is not just disruptive, but so difficult to completely comprehend. Understandably, the workplace and the enterprises that create value will all be impacted by these changes.
So how can we, as leaders, academicians, business executives and professionals ensure that we don’t lose sight of – and continuously work towards excellence – even as the world undergoes changes?
The answer lies in the very foundations of Total Quality, and its core tenet – staying close to the customer.
Even as our world witnesses rapid and disruptive changes which might eliminate up to 2/3rd of all the current jobs in the workplace, we have to place our customers and stakeholders at the centre of the business. Thereafter we have to listen – actively, pointedly and 24/7 – to them, and regularly interpret the Voice of the Customer.
We have to plumb-into and harness the new technologies, and the many advances in Data Science, Design Thinking and Analytics, to gauge and develop the most cost effective ways of serving the unique needs of our customers. Not only that: we have to also look at our own planet and the Environment, as a very critical and demanding stakeholder of ours, and one whom we can ignore only at our own peril.
When customer-centricity and stakeholder engagement are the bedrock of our approach, volatility and change on the outside cannot perturb those committed to excellence in serving their customers, stakeholders and Planet Earth. It will not be easy, but that’s the challenge leaders and professionals will have to take up, without any further loss of time.
Managing Disruptive Change