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18 Apr 2019 Updated 21 Nov 2019

Business Excellence

Overcoming Disruptions In A Fast-Changing Business Landscape

Disruptions in your industry are inevitable in an increasingly volatile, complex and ambiguous world. Here’s how you can not only cope with them but take advantage of them.

This is the third post of a three-part series on Business Excellence. For the first post, click here.

The panel session of the Business Excellence Conference 2019 tackled the topic of overcoming disruptions in a fast-changing business landscape.

Business Excellence Conference 2019

Hosted by Mr Lee Suen Ming, Vice-President, Parkway Pantai, it featured four panellists from different industries. Here are some key takeaways.

1. Examine your purpose often

Disruption is inevitable, especially given the increasingly fast pace of technological advances.

Ms Fiona Walker, Group Managing Director, Julia Gabriel Education, said that companies can ensure their continued relevance by asking themselves two questions regularly:

“You have to be able to articulate the answers to ‘why are we here?’ and ‘what value are we bringing to our customers?’. The answers will help you to shape and share a vision that will inspire your staff, your customers and the market.”

2. Stay nimble, innovative and don’t be afraid to pivot

Stay agile and be prepared to innovate. If the situation calls for it, rethink and change your business model or focus.

Mr Chong Ka Wee, Chief Executive Officer, Kinofy, shared how the challenges he faced when bringing his health and beauty brand into China have propelled him to digitalise and innovate, thereby spinning off a new business that helps other brand owners ease their market entry into China through the cross-border e-commerce channel. He said:

“When you’re struggling, keep looking for other opportunities. If the landscape changes and one part of your business does better than the others, be open to rethinking your plans.”

3. Take calculated risks, not reckless ones

Although companies may have to make changes to accommodate disruptions in their industries, the risks of doing so can be minimised.

Mr James Wong, Alternate Director and New Project Director, Phoon Huat, said that his firm puts a lot of stock in trials:

“Spend a lot of time trialling things, so that by the time you’re ready to make changes you already have a good idea of what the results will be. If you don’t have confidence of success, don’t do it.”

Mr Tan Khoon Guan, Managing Director, Precursor Assurance PAC, added that companies must be ready and able to write-off ideas that fail:

“Mistakes can make us better people, but you must be able to afford the cost of making them. Good businessmen take calculated risks. Bad businessmen take reckless ones.”

4. Cut your losses if necessary

Mr Tan stressed that making mistakes is part and parcel of building a business:

“You need to celebrate making mistakes. If you don’t make mistakes, chances are that you are not trying enough.”

If an initiative is clearly not going to plan, don’t throw good money after bad, added Mr Wong. He noted:

“Sometimes, when you embark on a new journey, the idea may be good but the timing is bad. Even if your ego is hurt, cut it loose and move on.”

5. Disruption is opportunity

All of the panellists agreed that companies should look at disruptions as opportunities for them to re-examine and improve themselves. Mr Tan said:

“Disruptions will happen. It’s a matter of how you adapt to them. Think of them as warning signals. If you ignore them, they will become a bigger and bigger danger to you. Instead, be open to them and embrace a learning mindset to see how they could work for you.”

Ms Walker said the key to harnessing disruption is welcoming ideas from all levels of the company:

“You should have a company where a change, an upcoming shift in direction, is seen as a challenge to brainstorm and unlock new opportunities. Your employees need to be able to feel that no idea is too crazy, and that they will be safe from too much criticism and judgement. If they feel that, they will push themselves.”

Mr Wong offered this parting advice to Singaporean companies:

“Disruption gives us a chance to grow. Look for the potential new directions and opportunities in it, and take it in stride.”

By constantly pursuing business excellence and re-evaluating themselves, companies can validate their performance, strengthen their business fundamentals, grow and stay competitive, helping them to be more ready for disruptions.

The Business Excellence Conference 2019 was jointly organised by Enterprise Singapore and the Singapore Quality Award Governing Council on March 13 and 14. The annual event brings together global thought leaders and chief executive officers to share their thoughts on the latest management strategies and trends. This year’s edition is especially significant as 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of Singapore’s Business Excellence initiative.

This is the third post of a three-part series on Business Excellence. For the first post, click here.