Leading A Disruptive Workplace

by Colin Ong

We seem to be facing a world where changes happen so quickly and customer expectations seem hard to pin-point. The ever-reliable market research before developing a marketing strategy stance is thrown out the window because the parameters used become irrelevant.

Change is the new normal.

The calculation of ROI appears impossible when investment function appears infinitely variable and non-stop.

To compound all this is an inter-generational divide in the workplace of baby boomers, Gen X & Y (and soon Z). we have a big mix of chaos.

So how can a business-owner create some order in a disruptive workplace?

Comparative Advantage

The familiar Ricardo’s Theory of Comparative Advantage is a good starting point. In a world where it is really hard to create a totally unique product or service, the reason is very simple. Technology and social media has made the transfer of information move in break-neck speed.

R&D and Patents merely protect your invention for a brief period of time. But will your customers taste and preferences stay constant within this protected period?

Not so.

Thus you must use a very short product life cycle and never stop improving your expertise.


You must develop a culture of open-communication with you employees because a single suggestion of improvement can make provide clues to how your organisation should proceed. The days of depending in the flair and bravado of the marketing team is over. We are now looking at the might of the entire company becoming one malleable and flexible entity.

Watch out for the tipping point

Gladwell was right. The only difference now is that the tipping point of your future customers will be reached faster and with more complicated variations. We are now looking at a few minor tipping points leading a very big tsunami of a change. Think GPS having an effect in driverless car technology.


Widen your definition of who are your stakeholders. The reason is very simple. The more relevant is your organisation to different demographics, the more chance of it having a strong mindshare and branding. The operative idea here is there must be the development of your product and service that your customers be hooked like Google Search.

Embrace robotics and automation

The earlier you embrace robotics and automation, the faster your team will too. Do a matching system and enquire how each member can use this technology.

Change of employment contract

There must be a willingness to look at a new employment contract where the potential employee will be committed to follow through with a robot or an automated process especially in training. Of course the role of the organisation is also to ensure that the robot is relevant to a dynamic workplace or it should have to be replaced.


The idea of one-size-fits-all motivation has to be thrown out as different people have different expectations and beliefs. It is not good to assume that high pay and large fringe benefits like free travel will necessarily be good motivation tools. Go to the ground to find out what rocks the world of your team. You may be very surprised.

About the author

Colin Ong Tau Shien is an economist and futurist. He is also a recognised business educator based in Singapore and can be emailed [email protected]. You can also follow his Twitter @m4s (Mentors For Startups)