Embracing Disruption: A Call to Action for Leaders in the Meetings Industry


The buzz surrounding disruption is ubiquitous. From markets to the global order, technology to the economy, the mantra is clear: disrupt or be disrupted, disrupt yourself, or face the consequences – disrupt or die. We find ourselves amidst a constant state of upheaval, both having been disrupted and actively engaging in disruption.

Disruption has become one of the most critical phenomenon of our times. We say disrupt so many times, some would ask has it been overused?, yet we’d argue otherwise. The challenge lies in transcending the perception that this disruptive world is meant for someone else or confined to a particular industry. It is imperative to render disruption relevant to our own realm of business events and market dynamics. As leaders, we must decipher how to navigate and adapt to the disruptive forces shaping the world we operate in, an endeavor that can seem overwhelming.

The conventional approaches are rapidly becoming obsolete, overshadowed by the advent of new technologies that not only shift but also dismantle and rejuvenate with unprecedented vigor. Rather than resist this tide of transformation, let us wholeheartedly embrace it. It’s time to usher in a new era, acknowledging that the old ways of doing things are making way for a resurgence of innovation and unprecedented possibilities.

Disruption is now the new normal – what is your responsibility?

In this transformative era marked by AI, social, cloud, big data technologies, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, blockchain, smart cities, smart cars, smart health, and smart energy, the old order has unequivocally faded away. Disruption is not an anomaly; it has become the new normal. Within this landscape of constant evolution, the Meetings Industry emerges as a vital catalyst for change. We serve as the nexus where disruptive ideas find expression, knowledge is disseminated, and individuals carry these transformative concepts back to their communities, fostering positive change.

From our privileged vantage point, we witness the ebb and flow of change across diverse industries. The pertinent question is not merely how we adapt to this position, but how we harness it to reshape our leadership paradigm. What does leadership look like in this era of perpetual transformation, and what responsibilities do we bear to effect change within our industry and subsequently in society?

The adage holds true – when disruption strikes, it is already too late. As leaders, our imperative is to be not only adaptive but visionary, crafting impacts within our lifetimes. Rather than merely facilitating change, can we aspire to become the very vehicle that propels change forward? It is through such proactive engagement that we can transcend the role of mere facilitators and emerge as architects of a future defined by innovation and progress.

A shift in thinking

Contemporary businesses are often fixated on the pursuit of continuity, dedicating insufficient attention to the deliberate introduction of discontinuity – the infusion of ideas and concepts that challenge or directly contradict prevailing norms leading to business or industry success. In the pursuit of success, there is a tendency to fall into established patterns, employing the same thinking that initially shaped a situation. However, it is crucial to recognize that the thinking that brought us into a particular scenario may not be the thinking that can extricate us from it. A paradigm shift is imperative!

Merely disrupting our thoughts is insufficient; the status quo of the business or even the entire industry demands intentional disruption. To break free from the shackles of routine and propel towards innovation, it is essential to challenge existing norms, question assumptions, and foster an environment that actively encourages the exploration of ideas inconsistent with the current trajectory. Embracing deliberate discontinuity becomes not only a strategy for survival but a powerful catalyst for evolution and sustainable growth.

Dare to be brave

Courage is the catalyst for creating new possibilities. Every day unfolds as the inception of something novel, shaped by our mindset and behavior. Success, however, often breeds a retrospective gaze, assuming that yesterday’s triumphs will seamlessly pave the way for tomorrow. Such an assumption, I’ve come to realize, is not only potentially misleading but also carries a hint of arrogance. I learned this lesson during an economic and banking crisis, a stark reminder that relying on past successes to chart the course for the future can be perilous.

Navigating the present is manageable, armed with the knowledge we possess. The real challenge lies in the unknown future, fraught with uncertainty and unpredictable twists. Crafting a new future for the meetings industry requires a departure from complacency. The key lies in understanding the present as a foundation for envisioning a future unbound by past constraints.

The question then arises: Do you aspire to be a part of this transformative change? Will you embrace disruptive leadership? True disruptive leadership commences with disrupting oneself, comprehending personal standards, and unlocking one’s leadership potential. It demands a willingness to challenge the inertia of the status quo. Reflect on your core values as a leader, contemplate your modus operandi in the marketplace, and define your trajectory. Only when you grasp your inner workings can you extend your focus to others.

To understand someone else is to step into their world, a powerful approach to fostering understanding and catalyzing change. The potential for reinvention and accelerated transformation lies within everyone’s reach, waiting to be harnessed.

It’s a matter of
  1. Creating an awareness and a willingness to change
  2. Investing a lot of time for reinvention
  3. Choosing the right people to implement change
  4. Bringing the non-changers with you or not 5 Realise the change in a staged approach

Disruptive thinking can help you as a leader to create value, differentiation and identify new ways to support long-term growth. Merging the tried and tested with the new and bold isn’t easy, but the importance of doing so is undeniable. The business that goes in the direction of the familiar will ultimately breed inertia. Complacency is dangerous in business and leadership because it leaves no room for alternative possibilities

Choosing the right people

What was once measured in money is increasingly measured in people. The ability of individuals to innovate and disrupt has become the cornerstone of all growth and progress. This principle transcends industries, whether it be banking, food, or the meetings sector – the essence remains unchanged. Those individuals who dare to step into the unknown and pioneer new paths emerge as the true game changers, propelling progress forward. Whether in the financial realm, the culinary arena, or the dynamic field of meetings, it is the courage and audacity of individuals that catalyze transformative shifts and drive meaningful progress.

There are times when a leader must move out ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people the right way.
Nelson Mandela

As leaders, we need to be adaptive and visionary in our thinking to create impact within our lifetime. Rather than be the facilitator of change, can we be the vehicle of change?

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