If you think game changers are a different breed, then you are right.
Our research, The DNA of a Game Changers, shows game changers are unlike others – they have the potential to transform our future.
In our rapidly changing world, businesses are faced with challenges from technology and new market entrants who play by different rules. To meet these threats we need leaders who can re-invent the game.
Senior leaders often say they want to have game changers in their teams. In reality organisations frequently end up ignoring them or pushing them out of the door, either because they are considered disruptive or don’t fit the role and culture they are expected to work in.
In order to survive in today’s digital world we need people who are not afraid to challenge the status quo.
Andrew Dyckhoff, Partner at Merryck & Co, is one of the highly successful game changers.
Andrew has had a variety of roles from CEO, to finance, marketing and frontline sales. He gave the example of how he and his colleagues rewrote the rules on how blood is given. Using hand held scanners and 2-D barcodes they transformed blood transfusion safety around the world.
But Andrew admits it was not all plain sailing. At first the business had a strong order book but this was cancelled by the Government on launch of the National Programme for I.T. – this was a huge blow and left the business fighting for their existence.
But in true game changer style Andrew and his team refused to let this prevent them from creating a life-saving product.
He says, “We just had to find another way and we only succeeded because we broke the rules.”
How do you survive in business today?
In order to survive in today’s digital world we need people who are not afraid to challenge the status quo and who are willing to do what it takes to make changes.
Andrew described the complexity involved. To succeed, not only did they have to get colleagues on board to invest in a new business area, the team had to be product pioneers, work with doctors and nursing staff who were resistant to change, convince hospital management, lobby MPs, influence government policy and invent a new form of finance lease.
Very few people would be able to make this happen. But, like all game changers Andrew puts his mind, energy, and soul into transforming the future. He sees around corners and has the ability to provide solutions we don’t know we even need.
In principle all businesses would benefit from this kind of game-changing ability. However there have been points throughout his career where, due to the organisational context, Andrew has been unable to change the game. On one occasion he worked for a Chairman and CEO who were incredibly linear in their approach and thinking. They didn’t understand or value what Andrew brings.
He says, “They were like kryptonite – it was as though all my superhero powers just evaporated! In their eyes I was simply disruptive. The more they tried to fit me into their box the more de-motivated and unproductive I became.”
"I don't think the same way."
Louise, an extreme game changer and marketing director, says:
“I don’t think the same way as other people I work with. They don’t get me. They see me as disruptive and non-conformist. But I am not trying to make their lives difficult, I’m trying to make things better.”
Unlike some game changers, Andrew quickly got to grips with office politics, understood how to use his strengths, and knew when he needed to draw on the strengths of others around him to succeed.
Game changers have a tendency to re-invent things constantly. This can make it very difficult for the business, which needs a stable platform and clear goals.
Andrew says, “I learned early on that I need a great COO who acts as a buffer between my constant re-invention and the people who get things done – I have the bright idea and they help make it happen.”
Andrew is not alone. Game changer Kunal Vora decided to set up his own business after spending just six months working in the corporate world after graduating.
Feeling frustrated with the red tape and office politics he decided to go it alone, where he had the freedom to do things his way and be himself.
Kunal is also aware how important other people are in helping to transform a game-changing idea into a reality. He is now at a point where he needs to take more employees on but is working hard to understand what it is he needs in his team.
Kunal says, “I have the ideas to make the business a success and I now know I need a team to support me in implementing what it is I want to achieve.”
"Self-awareness and recognition"
It is this self-awareness together with the recognition that others can and will support them in changing the game to achieve their objectives that seems to separate the game changers who realise their game-changing potential from others who fail or are pushed out.
Andrew now works with business leaders and their businesses to help them be the best that they can be.
This includes helping them create game-changing teams.
He says, “In today’s “VUCA” world businesses need to change the way they think in order to succeed. We need to focus on transformation. If organisations are genuinely committed to transformation they need to encourage those who can operate with a different order of thinking – a game changer”.
Our research, The DNA of Game-Changing Teams, shows true game-changing organisations will be able to continue with business as usual, whilst at the same time developing services or products that will transform our future.
It’s about identifying our game changers, creating a culture where they can excel, and building a team around them who will help them achieve their game-changing potential.