3 tips for making your business fit for the future

By Gabrielle Stannus

Looking for some tips to make your business fit for an uncertain future? We speak with Gihan Perera, a presenter at the recent Healthy Plants, Healthy People conference in Perth.

Gihan Perera is a leading futurist and author who has embraced emerging technologies and trends since his university days, when he wrote his thesis in robotics and artificial intelligence. Gihan then went on to lead a software development team building the infrastructure for the early Internet, founding one of Australia’s first Web development companies in 1996. Since then, Gihan has been busy teaching thought leaders how to engage in e-learning platforms and helping business leaders build their personal brand and online influence. Forbes magazine rated him the #5 social media influencer in the world (and #1 in Australia) in his area of expertise.

Gihan offers the following tips to greenlife businesses seeking to navigate a fast-changing world:

1. Take the lead
In his book Disruption by Design, Gihan claims that leading businesses are changing the way our economy operates by using the technology of today, not that of the future.

“Uber didn’t disrupt the taxi industry by swooping in with magical new technology. The technology was readily available, but the taxi industry chose to ignore it. The same applied to banks being disrupted by fintech, traditional real estate agents being disrupted by online portals, and Kodak being disrupted by digital cameras (In fact, Kodak invented the first digital camera),” says Gihan 1 .

“Be proactive, so you can respond to changes in the external environment, rather than passively waiting for change to happen to you. If you just sit around and wait for change, you will be disrupted. But if you are proactive and innovate, you can lead the change,” says Gihan.

Gihan predicts that Asia will drive and dominate the world's economy in the 21st century. “Australia is well-placed to benefit from that, if we take advantage of it. For example, imagine all the revolutionary technology we have got from the USA (Internet, smartphones, learning platforms, voice assistants), and imagine similar revolutionary stuff coming from Asia by 2050,” says Gihan.

Gihan continues: “Every time you hear about some new technology or trend, rather than just dismissing it because it’s not directly related to your industry, ask:

  • How could this affect me?
  • How could this affect my organisation?
  • How could this affect my industry?”

2. Involve your customers
“Your customers are smart and savvy and want to be more involved in the service you provide. The research shows they value it more when they are more involved,” says Gihan. The so-called ‘IKEA effect’ suggests that when people are actively involved in building their purchases, they are more likely to value their creations over ready-made alternatives 2 .

Gihan also says that the smartest businesses follow the customer and help them to solve their problems. Take the case of Netflix. Originally a DVD home delivery service, Netflix followed its customers online and completely switched its business model. It now offers a streaming service allowing its members to watch TV shows, movies, documentaries, and more on thousands of internet-connected devices.

What problems can your business help your customers to solve?

3. Engage your team
Gone are the days when the boss alone knew best, if indeed those days ever existed. Gihan encourages employers to look at their staff differently.

“Your team members also know much more than you might give them credit for. They have different skills, different experience, and represent diverse ways of thinking. Encourage them to speak up and give them more authority to act independently,” Gihan recommends.

Trust your team: You recruited them. They may have some great ideas to not only make their work easier, but your business more profitable.

The immediate future?
By now you may be asking just how meaningful this advice is currently given the challenges posed to business by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nobody knows how the world will look when the COVID-19 crisis is over, but we do know it WILL be over. And when that happens, people will ask, "What did we - individually, as a business, and an industry - do during the crisis to put us in the position we are in now?" During this crisis, of course we need to make important decisions for the short term, but it is also important to make decisions that will secure our position when the crisis ends,” Gihan says.

Before you make any important decisions in the light of COVID-19, give yourself a minute to watch Gihan’s short video: ‘ Take a Future Perspective’.

And remember to engage and involve your customers and your team throughout this challenging time to ensure your business survives and remains fit for the future.

Further reading
For more inspiration, check out Gihan’s books: Disruption by Design, Fast, Flat and Free and The Future of Leadership.
For further information and additional resources on this topic, visit www.gihanperera.com

References
1. Perera, Gihan 2019, Disruption by Design: Leading the change in a fast-changing world, First Step Publishing, Leederville WA. (page 250)
2. Norton, Michael, Mochon, Daniel & Ariely, Dan 2012, ‘The IKEA Effect: When Labor Leads to Love’, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Vol. 22, Iss. 3 (July), pp. 453–460, viewed 25 March 2020, http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:12136084