The Flip Side of Brexit?

BrexitBrexit isn’t the first major surprise that organizations have had to deal with, nor will it be the last. I’ve written in this space about disruption, specifically about innovative disruption and technological disruption. The current thinking is that disruption can be a good thing if handled correctly – but was the Brexit disruption a good thing?

As usual, the answer is, it depends. In a recent interview, Deloitte Advisory’s Andrew Blau discussed the surprising result of the Brexit referendum, the broader lesson it provides for business leaders, and how to find opportunity amid disruption.

Blau notes that disruption generally “defaults” to technology, but “disruption also occurs when the conditions or assumptions that underlie a company’s business success change—and change quickly. A textbook example? The shock and aftershocks brought about by the Brexit referendum.”

After the June 23 vote to “exit,” businesses “were forced to confront a situation that few had taken seriously,” Blau says. “This is particularly true for companies with investments, people, and exposure in the United Kingdom, as they face unparalleled disruption and a reorientation to a new set of trading relationships.”

But Brexit offers a broader lesson, he continues. Geopolitical, geo-economic, and international issues beyond our control “can suddenly disrupt conditions that had only yesterday seemed like safe bets, and the circumstances upon which we make decisions on how to compete and win in the marketplace can shift in abrupt and unexpected ways.”

Blau cites two challenges as a result of Brexit: The first and most immediate challenge is how business leaders should react to prolonged uncertainty, because “there is no precedent to know what this transformation will look like.”

The second and longer-term challenge for business leaders is “how to better anticipate and manage strategic surprise.”

So back to the initial question: is there a flip side to Brexit? In this case it is not a cop-out to say that only time will tell, because estimates of the disruption at hand range anywhere between two to 10 years. It’s hard to make strategic decisions within that time frame because it is difficult to know where and when the opportunities may lie.

,” Blau says.

The lesson is to move past denial and paralysis and “mobilize” before the dust settles.

Image: Keep calm and carry on #Brexit by #tom #malavoda via Flickr CC

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