Undisruptable – Aidan McCullen
Undisruptable is a book written by Aidan McCullen, published by Wiley in April 2021. In this book, Aidan McCullen provides insights and strategies for thriving in the Age of Disruption, offering readers a new lens to reframe change and the risk it now presents.
The book describes a new mindset of permanent reinvention for individuals, organizations, and life. It provides a practical guide for Navigating our constantly changing world and offers insights into how we can embrace change and find new ways to adapt and succeed.
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Resistance to Reinvention
Resisting change is natural. The status quo will always resist; that is its nature. Changemakers must recognise the signs of resistance as milestones of change; this resistance is a rite of passage. Incremental change means small improvements or minor changes. Transformational change can be extremely difficult and even painful. It involves psychological warfare for the individual.
Even when faced with debilitating disease, many people still resist change. Even when faced with organisational disruption, many leaders resist reinvention. Transformational change involves territorial warfare for the organisation. It is a slow process that cannot be rushed. Becoming something new means letting go of something old.
Resistance to Reinvention Contd
To create a new reality, we must introduce new thoughts and new practices to reinforce those new thoughts. This is the beginning of new mental models changing new business models; it is a circular process. The old self is fuel for the new, just like the caterpillar feeds on its shell, and just like the butterfly feeds on its former self when it liquifies the caterpillar.
Kintsugi thinking means reframing mistakes as learning opportunities. Mistakes are only failures when we don’t learn from them. By reframing our approach to mistakes, we can fail our way to success. The more we expose ourselves to making mistakes in the pursuit of progress, the more opportunity we give ourselves to learn.
How we react to failure has an immense impact on others, from a parent’s reaction to a child’s mistake to the leader of one of the most successful organizations of all time.
When we embrace mistakes as learning outcomes, we can uncover new capabilities, new innovations, and new opportunities. It is key to remember that there are always assets in the ashes.
S curves: a framework for permanent reinvention
- The S curve is a tool for analyzing various phenomena, such as technology, business models, and careers. It promotes a mindset of continuous reinvention and is comparable to an optometrist’s device that adjusts lenses.
- S curve growth begins slowly, accelerates, reaches its peak, and eventually declines. It is essential to jump to a new S curve before it becomes necessary to avoid making flawed decisions.
- Developing capabilities beforehand is crucial for individuals and organizations. Jumping to a new curve can result in a return on capability (RoC) rather than financial gain, which includes skills, mindsets, and technology.
The Ouroboros: Infinity Curve
The ouroboros is an ancient symbol for eternal, cyclical renewal or a cycle of life, death and rebirth. he ouroboros provides a perfect analogy for the reinvention of the S curve model. S curves are not isolated moments in time, but part of a perpetual process. When the S doubles back upon itself, it mirrors the ouroboros and reflects the concept of the caterpillar eating its own egg to fuel its future.
Organisations can learn from this principle and see how the legacy organisation can fuel the emergent one. Individuals can use this as a mental model to reframe personal development as a perpetual odyssey. Unlike a journey, an odyssey has no fixed destination: permanent reinvention is an odyssey with no destination.
We have been conditioned to think of time as linear. Ancient cultures perceived time as cyclical. Cyclical time works perfectly for the concept of the infinity curve; cycles suggest there is no end, just the beginning of the next cycle.
Cycles are a great way to reframe every aspect of your life, from your career to your relationship, each interacting with the other and each at a different stage of its own life cycle.
Vision is a powerful force that guides us towards our goals, even if they’re not yet clear. Without it, we may lack direction and purpose. Studies suggest that retirement can be particularly difficult for those who over-identify with their careers, underscoring the importance of cultivating vision across all areas of our lives.
When we set a vision, we activate our brain’s RAS, which filters information and helps us notice opportunities we might otherwise miss. Visualization, combined with action, increases the likelihood of success.
When light is concentrated, it is powerful, like a laser beam. It is the job of a leader to unite people and focus them on a compelling vision. The hub-and-spoke model was a core component of the success of the Roman Empire.
Apple’s digital hub strategy led to unprecedented success and the world’s first trillion- and then two-trillion-dollar business. Vision can work in a similar way, with vision being the central spoke connecting your people and all their diverse activities.
Without vision, your organization may be busy but disconnected, with lots of movement but no direction, like an octopus on rollerblades. Articulating your vision publicly can also excite your future customers.
Setting a vision often involves encountering obstacles, but the law of opposites reminds us that every negative has a positive. Change can be met with discouragement, but it’s important to understand that naysayers are a common part of any transformation process.
In organizations, blockers may resist change, but crises and obstacles can be seen as opportunities for growth. When opposing forces collide, they create energy that can power a new reality. The reward for overcoming high hurdles is greater when the vision is lofty.