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Developing A Disruptive Lens

By David Penglase

Leaders and their teams who can develop and harness a ‘disruptive lens’ will be more proactive, confident and flexible, which are three key drivers of success in times of disruption, distraction and change.

I got thinking about this practice of developing a disruptive lens following a recent yoga session.

I’ve discovered Yoga has a way of teaching powerful life lessons if you’re mindfully reflective after each session. My Yoga instructor Louise, uses the phrase “change the grip and change the focus”.

This is a great metaphor for leaders.

You might have seen the movie Dead Poets Society when Robin Williams’ school teacher character jumps up on the table and (I’m paraphrasing here) tells his class they need to change their point of view, shift out of their everyday focus and to see the world anew.

If you were to stand on the floor and say that, it is a totally different experience than actually getting up and standing on a table or chair and saying it, because your standing in a different position… you’ve adopted a disruptive lens, a focus that is different from your normal focus.

Here are three examples of how to practically apply a disruptive lens:

  1. Remove yourself from the place where you typically work: This might mean for a leader to get out of your office and physically be with your team in the field.
  2. Don’t settle for ‘smooth sailing’: When things are working well, that’s a great time to proactively start looking for how to go from smooth sailing to catching that tail wind… how might things be even better than they are now?
  3. Ask a millennial: Actively seek the opinions of the young, inexperienced, and unbiased within your team on what they would do differently if they were ‘in charge’.

In one of my yoga stretches I am on my back and am holding my elbows above my head. Louise instructs me to change the grip, to swap how I’m holding each elbow from right over left to left over right. It is not that easy to do unless you’re really concentrating… try it for yourself. Fold your arms in your most natural way while sitting at your desk. Now, quickly unfold your arms and fold them the opposite way. For many people, they simply return to the original and comfortable way they started with.

Developing a disruptive lens takes effort and it means removing yourself and your mind from the smooth sailing of habitual practice. However, for those who develop and embrace a disruptive lens, seeing their world in a different way, opens windows of opportunities that are always there, but often just out of sight.

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