Take the Fear out of Digital Disruption: Anticipate and Embrace

Daniel Burrus
November 16, 2022

Daniel Burrus

One of the World's Leading Technology Forecasters and Business Strategists
Take the Fear out of Digital Disruption: Anticipate and Embrace

Uncertainty. Anxiety. Fear.

To say you have never once felt these emotions in either your professional or personal life is a fallacy. This basic human instinct is a primordial survival technique implemented unconsciously in direct response to the unknown.

In an individual's personal life, it may come in situations where you take a physical risk, like riding a motorcycle for the first time or going on a roller coaster at a theme park. You know you will likely walk away unscathed from your experience, but your unconscious mind does not know that.

But in one's professional life, those general triggers of fear all go back to survival in two ways different from the aforementioned adrenaline-filled entertainment experiences. They are money and fulfillment, adding up to what one perceives as success. When you do something professionally, you do it for monetary exchange that the industry places value on, and while that keeps you and your family fed, accomplishment and growth in a skill brings individualized fulfillment.

There are many disruptions that, at a moment's notice, can step in the way of achieving fulfillment or making money, leaving an individual without purpose or a place in the professional world.

Threat to Survival -- Technology Encroaching on Your Skills

In all industries, working professionals, business leaders, and all who make a living doing a specialized skill spend most of their lifetime perfecting it. The practice of your role and skill involved in it is in addition to expensive schooling that gives you the credentials in contemporary society to have the title as well.

So, when something disrupts this course of action, that primordial fight-or-flight survival instinct kicks in and we look for ways to evade the disruption. And for many in our world today, the biggest perceived threat to professional survival is digital disruption, which is accelerating faster than ever before.

To someone who worries about the likes of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), or any other derivative of autonomous digital disruption, the constant swarm of new, transformative technology can make them feel outnumbered and isolated. This is especially true if the organization they work for does not help them grow with these disruptions or gives them the impression that they are steering into the skid together.

Learning Where We Fit with Autonomous Technology

Let's shift the attention to business leaders and C-suite executives in this equation. How can you prepare your workforce to feel comfortable as digital disruptions impact your industry and daily operation if you yourself do not understand their place in your organization completely?

You cannot!

Much like needing to go to school to become a physician, you cannot perform an operation safely without having the foundations for success. Start by allocating time internally to learning what is changing in the world around you and outside of your industry. An Anticipatory Leader will look at those changes through an exponential viewfinder in which they see those disruptions as being applicable to their industry now before they make an unexpected appearance.

If you are a business leader at a mountain bike manufacturing business, how AI and ML or autonomous machines might be transforming the processes at an auto manufacturing plant is just as applicable at your organization, even if you are much smaller than the auto manufacturer or if the complexities of creating an automobile far outweigh those of making a mountain bike. How can you pre-solve future problems that will eventually work their way into your organization?

Employees Seeing Their Future Eases Their Fear

Now, let's move back over to a focus on entry-to-mid-level employees and their worries about technology disrupting the status quo.

An Anticipatory Organization that has Anticipatory Leaders heading up every operation helps prepare employees for the shifts caused by disruptive autonomous technology. This is done transparently so that all different generations working in the company feel at ease about how they can grow with said technology, especially since a Baby Boomer employee will worry in much different ways than a Gen Z employee.

Anticipation and the principles of being Anticipatory are ways to better see the future in front of you, both as a business leader and an employee. This is also a measure in what can be referred to as "exponential education." Exponential education represents a process of learning in which you and your employees learn about disruptive digital technology as it is worked into your organization's processes.

In essence, this reassures employees that they do not need to go to some formal educational institution with every disruption just to keep their job, thus easing anxiety and that fight-or-flight survival instinct that may lead them to abandon ship. Even further, you as a business leader will feel more in control, looking to notable tells in the world that point an obvious arrow at what you should look out for.

As you work in digitally disruptive technology and maintain a handle on it as a leader and organization, you become the positive disruptor in your industry, streamlining processes, boosting organizational morale, and transforming the ordinary view of success into one of great significance!

Daniel Burrus

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