This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
The way Canadians live and work is about to change profoundly. Rapid advances in technology are poised to disrupt many of the sectors that anchor Canada's economy, and in some cases they already have. The impact will be felt across the country, no one is immune – and Canadian businesses aren't prepared for it.
For over a year, Deloitte studied the Canadian economy to better understand whether Canadian firms have what it takes to withstand significant technology-driven disruption. What we found was startling: Only 13 per cent of firms are highly prepared for disruption.
These 13 per cent don't fit a single mould. They represent firms from every sector, and are of all shapes and sizes. From a large bank to a small bakery, these firms are as diverse as our country. However, they share one important similarity: They are all taking concrete steps to ready themselves for disruption from a future we can only imagine.
What are these firms doing? How can you ensure your company is prepared? There are four areas we believe to be vitally important to disruption preparedness: awareness, culture, organizational agility, and resources. In order for a leader to prepare his or her company for advanced tech disruption they need to ask 10 key questions and be willing to take action.
Awareness: A company's ability to understand changing technologies, the accelerating pace of change, and the potential for technology-driven disruption in their industry and business environment.
1. Do we have a real method of sensing and learning about the disruptive technologies that could impact our industry?
2. Do we look to other industries or countries to find disruptors that may impact our business model?
Culture: The extent that a firm promotes, encourages and provides incentives for innovative behaviours and practices.
3. Are our senior leaders driving the push to be more innovative?
4. Does our culture support or punish risk-taking and innovation?
Organizational Agility: The ability to rapidly redeploy systems, assets and people to address external opportunities or threats.
5. Is our company agile enough to change our core business model if new technologies make us obsolete?
6. Are our front-line employees and managers empowered to change the way they work in response to the market?
Resources: The technology, human capital and financial assets that firms can use to enable change.
7. Do we account for the growth of artificial intelligence, crowdsourcing and advanced robotics, all of which are changing the nature of work, when we make investments in talent?
8. Do we have a research and development group that experiments with advanced technologies as they apply to our industry?
Business leaders from across the country who are adapting to disruptive technologies are empowering their people to innovate. They are working to stay nimble, and to be ready to react in a moment's notice. And perhaps most importantly of all, they are working across diverse ecosystems to ensure that they have the right people and technology in the right places, at the right time.
It's crucial for business leaders to know what's out there, and absorb what they are up against. While answering the above questions are fundamental to successfully preparing for what's ahead, there are two final questions that help firms to understand what they are preparing for:
9. If a company like Google or Amazon entered our industry tomorrow, would we survive?
10. Is our company doing all it can to prepare for disruption caused by advanced technologies?