Non disruptive leadership

Disruptive Change
As a note, I post a pic of the article, taken from the web. This article is accompanied by two ads, the top one from investment and private bank Carnegie, asking “Where is Sweden heading”, the other from low cost SAS-competitor Norwegian, advertising low fare trips. Are media agencies getting smarter, funnier or subject to randomness?

Scandinavian Airlines has been on its knees. And still will be for some time. And so many saw it coming, but very little change was seen. More and more cost and efficiency programs were launched. New marketing campaigns were released. Staff was being taken on-board in even more catchy named change programs. Clients were involved in answering whether they preferred champagne or not. Customers continued going elsewhere. Cervenka asks for more disruptive leadership in our organizations.

Disruptive Leadership for Disruptive Behavior

I was kindly reminded of the strikingly spot-on article by Andreas Cervenka in Swedens Svenska Dagbladet. He writes about giants, in this case Scandinavian Airlines System, inability to think and act differently. Cervanka refers to the need for disruptive innovation. I would say in many ways one of my favorite topics.

Now, it is one thing to notice the need for disruptive leadership that drives actions towards disruptive innovation, another to criticize those that don’t. I would even argue that the most important question to ask in any business now, is; How do we ensure this doesn’t happen to us?

Disruptive leadership

We need to work on different aspects of this. Not all to be mentioned here. Culturally we should embrace a bit more curiosity and courage and less satisfaction. We know from previous studies that the organizations that are the most satisfied with their growth represent those with actually the least growth. Those that are constantly dissatisfied, seek new ways to constantly challenge the way they work and seek new ways to improve customers choice to buy – nota bene – not only satisfaction.

We must have leadership that challenges everything. Always. Challenge in an exciting, engaging and inspiring, yet serious way. That is leadership. Get your people to do their best to be outstanding. We all do.

Move away from navigating only in the known. Seek answers in the unknown. What are the mega trends? Is low cost the only mega trend that could make an airline “fly”. No, I don’t think so. Just as “free” was not the way to spread music over internet. Just as much as we like to share, doesn’t mean we need to share the work of others. We just might like to share our thoughts. We want to lure others into our web of choices. Into our club. Our club of personal choices.

Innovation Portfolio Management

As Cervenka states in his article, we need to move away from the short term dilemma. Now, how can this be done? Considering all factors that affect our choices in an organization. I would say that Innovation Project and Portfolio Management is the way to go. We have found as we show this approach to corporations, that the choice to search for optimal net asset value and returns, most often include putting some resources behind the disruptive ideas. Making certain they move from ideas, to the drawing table and on wards toward value creation.

I remain saying that ideas are close to worthless. Ideas that generate value, repetitively and with a margin, they are worth pursuing. They are Innovation. They should partly be disruptive.

Finally I am an advocate for long term leadership. We have to look beyond the most immediate and our personal agenda, to find the solutions that admit change.


  • Thats why Virgin Atlantic choosed to do differently when they launched their program. Like everyone else they asked trans Atlantic customers what they preferred/valued going over seas. Like all other airlines surveys they got the same answers: arrive in time/comfy chairs/nice staff/good price bla, bla, bla. All common sence without differentiation. Instead, Virgin made what what came on the 16th (massage) and 25th place (a really good bar) to their brand promise: “you Will be more relaxed and acquanted when you step off the plane than when you stepped on. If Virgin Atlantic is doing well or not I can’t tell- but their customerswill sure as hell enjoy The ride and Tell 🙂 // Victor Dahlborg – CEO (a dating service in the car industry- another disruptive industry in deep need of change)

    • @Victor Dahlborg
      Yes, certainly Virgin comes to mind. So does Spotify, SMART, Fisker, Apple… and maybe FACIT 😉 I believe that part of the issue is the speed at which we build brands and the force that competitors hit us. It has been said, believe it was by Murdoch, that -It is not the big that will eat the small, it is the fast that will eat the slow. Large organizations are structured to avoid risk, meaning they take non, rather than they handle it. This is how size hits them. Now when experience in terms of managerial experts have moved from industry to investment and start up at a larger scale. I believe the power of the small and many will be as strong as the power of the creative and connected always have been.

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