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Why The Path Of Least Resistance Isn’t Always The Best Route To Success

Businesses can thrive by embracing uncomfortable challenges.

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Businesses can thrive by embracing uncomfortable challenges.

Opinions

Why The Path Of Least Resistance Isn’t Always The Best Route To Success

Businesses can thrive by embracing uncomfortable challenges.

Share this article

The majority of organisations look to avoid difficult situations when striving for business success. It’s understandable that business leaders want to walk the path of least resistance, but there is also a potential benefit to be found in embracing the uncomfortable.

Many organisations get stuck in the trap that the way things have always been done is the right way. However, looking at uncomfortable business situations with a determined and creative mindset can often bring about different – and better – ways of doing things.

There is no doubt that we are in a time of uncertainty – politically, socially and economically. During periods of change like this, business leaders have a tendency to stick with stable processes of old. However, often these legacy systems stand in the way of progress.

Organisations must question what they deem “the norm” and consider what opportunity this change could provide.

A key aspect of this is ensuring that, no matter the outcome, the business learns from its actions and moves on in a positive way. As Henry Ford said, “the only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

So, with all of this in mind, how would you drive business success by embracing the uncomfortable, learning from mistakes and doing things a little differently?

One initiative often cited as driving change within businesses across the globe is “digital transformation”. Whether you deem it an overused buzzword or a real demonstration of technological advancement, it captures the idea that we are living in an ever-changing world. Businesses must transform or risk being far outshone by the competition.

The organisations lauded for excellence in digital transformation tend to be those looking away from on-premise software towards the cloud. With clear cost savings and increased efficiency, the benefits speak for themselves.

That’s why 90 percent of organisations are actively involved in some form of digital transformation initiative, according to analyst house IDC.

One business in the process of a successful “digital transformation” is ING, the Dutch bank. The organisation has had to reinvent itself several times since the financial crisis, not only from a technological perspective but culturally too.

The company has embraced the uncomfortable situations it has found itself in, approaching digital transformation initiatives with determination and curiosity, ultimately leading to further business success.

There are three important pieces of advice I would give to business leaders, in order to challenge comfort levels and drive a successful enterprise.

Don’t shy away from difficult questions

Curiosity is key when it comes to approaching business problems differently. Just because something has always been done one way, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the right way. As a business leader, it’s important that you and your team constantly question the processes in place, asking what could be done differently to enable the organisation to run at its full potential.

This sense of inquisitiveness should run far beyond the boardroom. Those at the top should encourage others in the business to ask them difficult questions and, in turn, challenge the norm wherever possible.

Recognise the longevity of disruption

Even the most innovative and technologically advanced organisations often struggle to keep up with the pace of evolution of consumer technology. Changing from within and embracing the disruption to come is a good way of keeping up with these developments. This idea of “self-disruption” will enable organisations to thrive and outpace their competitors in the modern – and ever-changing – business landscape.

Acknowledge failure, but do it quickly

Some form of failure is an almost inevitable part of any innovative business. And not only that, it can bring about valuable lessons when approached with a positive attitude and quick action where needed.

Being risk averse does not lead to success, so business leaders simply cannot fear failure. It’s more about acknowledging the failures as they happen and doing so quickly before learning and moving on.

The current rate of change many organisations are experiencing is not going anywhere. In fact, many say it’s only going to increase further. As such, business leaders cannot shy away from difficult situations. Instead, they must “self-disrupt” and embrace the idea of change.

Real business advantage will come to those who make the most of the uncomfortable situations they encounter along the way. They should learn from any mistakes quickly and always question the process. Those that do so will find themselves at the top of the pile as a genuine disruptor.

To end with a phrase often attributed to evolutionist Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Change and disruption can transform an organisation for the better and have a positive impact on business performance – providing business leaders keep these key points in mind and learn how to embrace the uncomfortable.

Gonzalo Benedit is President EMEA & APJ at Workday.

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Why The Path Of Least Resistance Isn’t Always The Best Route To Success

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