If you could respond to a disruptive environment, would you rather do that when the market was strong and your brand had equity, or when your revenue was flat and you were losing clout in the marketplace?
The first option is clearly preferred, said Peter Sheahan, who has advised leaders from companies like Apple and Goldman Sachs on innovative business approaches, during his Main Platform presentation at the 2017 Annual Meeting. Yet people often do not take this action because they are unable “to escape the gravity of their own success.”
That powerful phrase comes from a meeting with chess champion Garry Kasparov, who said that his hardest victory was not his first or his second but his third. By that time, everyone knew how he played, so not only did he have to learn a new way, he had to unlearn his old ways. And when he experimented with the new way and felt he would lose, Sheahan said, “He would feel pulled back to playing the way he had played all those years before.”
Be active rather than reactive
When faced with the prospect of change, it is important to move before you need to, Sheahan added. “If we wait too long, we have to spend a small fortune trying to catch up,” he said. That means resisting denial or any inclination toward a passive-aggressive response, which involves listening to new ideas and agreeing with them in theory but failing to put them into practice.
Instead, advisors should recognize the need to change and be proactive. That way they can orient toward the things that disrupt them, Sheahan said, and turn that disruption into market opportunity.