The time has come to start playing to win

Let’s face it, leaders: you have run out of excuses. The truth, brutal as it may sound, is that right now, on the brink of the summer of 2022, is the last moment to get your act together and begin actually winning those battles that once, say, a couple of years ago, were deemed “must-win“, then put on hold for an undefined period of time, for reasons we are all too aware of.

As Terence Mauri, a best-selling author and founder of Hack Future Lab emphasized at an exclusive interview with Nordic Business Report, status quo may never have been so dangerous as it is today. Continuous search for better solutions and ways to do things differently are more essential than ever – making an impact on the way a company is performing begins with changing the way people perceive, think, and do things.

Photo of Terence Mauri.

Out of old habits, onto a fresh re-start

“The idea that disruption simply happens to us is an example of how false constraints often emerge in organizations”, Terence Mauri points out. “Disruption can mean several things, but actually it is a code for learning and reimagination.”

As the world becomes more turbulent, even leadership models, business models and frameworks lose their relevance over time. There is simply no other way to survive but to let go of the old ways that are no longer fit for the future. This leads straight to one of Mauri’s favorite topics, scalable unlearning.

The first thing leaders should do is clear their minds and challenge every old assumption, every old way of thinking and every “best practice” there is. While the operating environment keeps becoming more complex, companies tend to remain incremental towards change. Instead, they should be transformative and make bold decisions, even at a risk.

“Thinking and learning are important, but rethinking and unlearning are at least equally so”, Mauri states. “That seems to be a blind spot with most leaders and companies.”

Getting closer to value creation

Research carried out at Terence Mauri’s Hack Future Lab show that people focus too much on shallow work, shallow thinking, and shallow leadership. To efficiently unlock human potential in their respective organizations, leaders must make sure that people spend less time in meetings and more focusing on value creation. The deeper the work, thinking, and leadership get, the better tools the organization has at its disposal for taking risks and thriving.

To sustain vitality, leaders must reimagine the relevance on how they lead and why they lead. Reimagination is a human force that leads to better reality. To ensure sufficient rethinking of assumptions and updating of opinions, leaders should pay attention to these accelerators:

–  The curiosity to learn

–  The courage to unlearn

–  The clarity to focus

–  The conviction to decide

“As the world around evolves, the companies have no choice but to evolve accordingly”, Terence Mauri says. “Outdated ways of thinking must be recognized and replaced with fresh approaches that are capable of opening doors to new possibilities.”

Solving the biggest problems requires building cultures where talent is empowered, while deciding future trends and their implications on strategy is dependent on collective conviction. The company must be fully aligned to turn words efficiently into action.

That requires a new perspective and courage to lead from the future.

“By default, most companies lead from the past”, Terence Mauri points out. “When you have a repeatable, profitable business model, you can continue repeating that model for a long time.”

The policy of sticking with the line-up that keeps winning is quite natural, even though that is about to change as today even the largest corporations and most conservative business areas can’t take anything for granted. Everyone is beginning to understand the essence of change.

Look bravely ahead – and lead from there

“The idea on reimagination and reinvention is an essential part of vitality and resilience”, Terence Mauri says. “Leading from the future and reinventing value creation are gradually assuming a central role in the way successful companies are being run.”

Terence Mauri has done extensive research on how to lead from the future and discovered a number of insights. First of all, he advises everyone to learn aggressively with a strong viewpoint of the future.

“Organizations must be able to define whether they are a learning organization or a knowing organization”, Mauri emphasizes. “It is essential for every organization to be fully aligned, so that they have a collective conviction of a singular point of view in 5 to 10 years ahead.”

That point of view provides a foundation – a target towards which the organization can work back from.

Secondly, it is important to explore early to exploit knowhow sooner. The blind spots and early signals are easy to miss, yet they are vital to discover in a world full of all kinds of noise and chaos. It all begins with continuously evaluating best practices and creating an organization that truly empowers people.

Third, every leader and organization must understand that if their strategy is just to keep up, they just keep falling behind more. Thus, they should worry less about keeping up and more about aligning on collective view of the future.

“You can’t play zero sum game with disruptors”, Terence Mauri emphasizes. “Playing to win is the only way to succeed.”

Finally, everyone should understand that a new world can’t be navigated with an old map. Reflecting on their leadership against a future that is, inevitably, restless, leaders simply must be prepared with some turbulence. No matter how uncertain the times ahead may look like, companies must assume controls of their own destiny. This calls for certainty in leadership and commitment to bold action.

So, believe in yourself and just do it.


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