Disruption is now a daily concern. Generative AI, rising interest rates, the endless tug-of-war between remote and in-person work—it’s a part of life and seems set to stick around. As a business leader, one of the biggest questions you may be asking yourself is, how can I transform our organization fast enough—not just to keep up, but to thrive?

It all begins within

Unlocking your people’s potential is the best way—though that’s easy to say and much harder to achieve. Savvy leaders know that it can’t happen without the right supporting structures, skill sets and culture. And culture is crucial—our data shows that 91% of executives agree that improving corporate culture would increase their organization’s value.

It's not just about improving it; however, it’s about creating more freedom for your people to think bolder and bigger, about bringing out their true uniqueness and using that to innovate better. Now is not the time for FOMU (Fear of Messing Up) —in fact, unpredictable times often demand different and innovative thinking.

“The right culture gives you the resilience to make it through the uncertainty of this world,” says Bryan Ackermann, Korn Ferry Managing Partner in its Assessment and Leadership and Professional Development practices.

“Savvy leaders know that unlocking people's potential can't happen without the right supporting structures, skill sets and culture.”

Adapt quicker to thrive

A shift in priorities from customer to employee is foundational. Our research on the World’s Most Admired Companies (WMACs) shows that learning was viewed by WMAC executives as the most important characteristic for their company culture in the future. Learning agility has replaced customer focus as the number one future priority for those companies.

By focusing on the creation of an agile workforce that can respond to changing conditions, you’re far more likely to avoid workforce woes down the road. And these woes are more common than you’d think—our data finds that 67% of hiring professionals have needed to let people go because their jobs were no longer relevant. “With Korn Ferry’s Culture MASS model (mindsets, abilities, structures and systems), however, you’ll have an easily actionable game plan that empowers your people to adapt to change,” says Sarah Jensen Clayton, Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner leading the firm’s Culture and Change solution in North America. “You have to create the conditions for people to behave in a new way.”

Think inclusive to win

If you genuinely want to transform, you’ll need to adopt an inclusive innovation mode that makes everyone a designer. “When we give the power of design to our employees and other stakeholders, we can directly incorporate their experiences and insights into solutions,” says Mike Solomons, a Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner in its DE&I practice. “Leaders might have a preconception that inclusion is slow because it takes work to incorporate diverse perspectives, but we have data to show that a diverse workforce generates 38% more in revenue from innovative products and services. So when leaders embrace this challenge, they will find a boost to the quality of ideas, leading to breakthroughs.”

Organization Strategy

Change starts with people

Connect better to grow

“Connectivity is one capability that really has risen to the top of the heap,” says Laura Manson-Smith, Korn Ferry’s Global Leader in Organization Strategy Consulting. Because it’s no longer enough to connect with your customers—you also need to connect with other companies to drive growth.

Take, for example, the response to the pandemic, when previously competing pharma companies decided to collaborate to develop vaccines more quickly. Similarly, with the war in Ukraine creating ongoing volatility in the energy market, the major oil companies have been looking to partner with smaller organizations to drive innovation. In some cases, these partnerships lead to acquisitions; in others, they forge a symbiotic coexistence that might have been inconceivable in the past. “It will be key to partner with other organizations or risk getting left behind,” says Manson-Smith.

Share knowledge to empower

“Some business leaders think that capital is the thing holding them back from growth," says Mark Grimshaw, Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner in its Global Sales and Service Practice, “but they’re wrong. In sales, for example, increased buying complexity and sophistication is reducing the value of all but the very best salespeople.” He says this puts the onus on leaders to foster better collaboration and knowledge-sharing among peers. But changing mindsets to empower people and fuel business impact will take courage. Quoting the poet Goethe, he says, “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”

“Changing mindsets to empower people and fuel business impact will take courage.”

Transform now

In short, successful organizational transformation starts and ends with your people, from inclusion and collaboration to balancing growth ambitions with employee needs. If you can empower your leaders and teams to think braver, adapt faster and connect all over, then they can stay ahead of the curve and will be unaffected by disruption—and so will your business.

Explore our Transform for Growth content to find out much more.