Every year, around this time, we are invaded by a set of predictions and technological and innovation trends that, according to the most diverse experts, will "definitely" mark the following year. In some cases, these trends show us some signs amidst all the noise; in other, much more common, we are just given pure guessing exercises. For several years we have been assured that the definitive confirmations of virtual reality, blockchain, quantum computing, web3, the metaverse, everything and its opposite are coming.

The truth is that technological evolution today is profoundly accelerated, but more than the singular effect of a single technology, it is above all the combinatorial and interdependent effect of these technologies that has, in fact, transformed our lives.

Thinking that disruption is eminently generated by technological evolution is a very common bias in the innovation and entrepreneurship circles. However, the truth is that the most profound disruptions in recent years have been generated by other perhaps more prosaic sources: public health, the environment, demographics, distribution of wealth, trust (or lack of it), populism, geopolitics. And this combination of disruptive factors is deeply amplified in a totally hyperconnected world.

Companies have long realized that the speed of change should motivate preparation for various possible scenarios in order to anticipate and avoid disruption. In this sense, we repeatedly observe the implementation of strategies that aim to ensure that companies can be "future-proof". And, in my opinion, this is a huge mistake. To be "future-proof", besides being impossible, is completely undesirable. Why would we want to "future-proof" the company? Do we really believe that it is possible to get some kind of vaccine that will protect us from the future? Is that what we want?

The future - near or more distant - has to be faced head-on. It has to be embraced and welcomed as an opportunity, not a threat. To believe that you can avoid the future or avoid disruption is simply to deny reality. Disruption is no longer an eventuality that you try to avoid at all costs; disruption is an inevitability that you must try to lead. And this is a reality that the last few years have undoubtedly confirmed.

This means that, like it or not, disruption - and how to lead it - becomes the biggest challenge facing companies in 2023.

This year that now begins will be, perhaps, the absolutely critical moment for companies to face head on their biggest challenge: the construction of their new legacy. To assume that the legacy that companies have today, even if it is a factor of pride and even of present competitiveness, does not in itself ensure any kind of future competitiveness is a difficult decision to make and a hard task to undertake. It requires humility and courage. It requires farsightedness and vision. It requires reason and ambition.

We are at a crossroads of time and history, where the different sources of disruption converge into a kind of (im)perfect storm that may redesign much of what we live in society. No one will have much doubt that an extremely complex year lies ahead, with probable social, environmental and economic setbacks. Hard times are coming. But that is precisely why this is the time to act.

This is the time for companies to look at their disruption factors and to address them. I'm not even talking about the "future-ready" that many companies have also been looking for recently... No, I'm really talking about facing and leading their own disruption. This is the time to experiment, to explore and to search. This is the time to question all the established assumptions and preconceptions in companies and confront them with the future. This is the time to be "future-driven", to make decisions informed by the future and not the past.

I deeply believe that the next few years will be the most critical time for companies to adjust and prepare for this new "strange way of life", where disruption is inevitable and ambiguity is permanent.

This is why I believe that innovation plays a key role in building the new legacies that companies will leave for their future.

Because innovation - if thought out and executed in a strategic way - serves exactly to be able to deliver strategic objectives in contexts of extreme uncertainty. 

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Executive Master's in Innovation & Entrepreneurship?
Published in 
27/1/2023
 in the area of 
Innovation & Change

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