How Do Business Leaders Survive and Effectively Manage Through a Disruption?

Mark Bridges
4 min readApr 4, 2022

Recessions force leaders of virtually all organizations around the world to evaluate the ramifications of a severe crisis.

Some CEOs excel when presented with a crisis, causing their companies to grow stronger. Some of the participants appear to be faltering. Others are only spectators while their groups fall apart.

Major disruption survivors are more likely to emerge stronger and better able to forecast and plan for the next one.

Organizational leaders, regardless of the source, are ultimately responsible for Managing Disruption. The role of the organization’s leader is the most important.

During times of disruption, leaders of organizations who apply the 3-phase systematic technique will be the most effective:

1. Anticipate & Prepare

2. Plan & Respond

3. Implement & Sustain

Top executives must understand the mechanics of disruption, foresee its potential repercussions, design a response strategy, oversee that response, and maintain the necessary changes.

Let’s take a closer look at each phase’s details.

Anticipate & Prepare

This requires calculating the possibility of a negative event as well as the implications that may occur. The other part of this process is planning for it, which demands keeping the level of planning proportional to the risk’s type and likelihood.

While it is impossible to predict every disruption, it is possible to anticipate the kind of disruptions that may be particularly destructive, and prepare for them accordingly.

Risk management and disruption anticipation must be clearly distinguished. Businesses should investigate risks they assume they are insulated from because of their competences and capabilities.

Only the organization’s top boss can overcome these limitations by learning to ask better questions at all levels of the organization and looking ahead rather than relying solely on historical data.

Plan & Respond

This phase entails ensuring that there is a clearly stated goal with a compelling purpose, developing a viable and reliable plan to achieve that goal, and pursuing it consistently and realistically.

The organization’s leader is in charge of forming a response to the disruption; effective handling of a disruptive event requires leadership from the front. All stakeholders should be consulted without bias and with humility, and the organization’s leader should listen to all viewpoints with an open mind.

Following careful consideration, the leader should issue a response that specifies the actions that must be taken, who is responsible for them, and when they must be completed.

Implement & Sustain

One aspect of the process is quickly implementing changes by carefully matching senior executives’ capabilities to tasks; the more difficult and critical part is maintaining such changes so that they become the norm.

When faced with a business crisis, organizations frequently begin appropriate solutions but are unable or unwilling to follow through. In such cases, the issues that hampered the response are ignored, and the organization becomes even less prepared for the next crisis.

Both the Organizational Design and the Organizational Culture must be carefully examined in order to implement change and sustain a company in the face of disruption.

It is the leader’s responsibility to ensure that the organization’s structure and culture are ready for the required changes and are set up to support the new strategies and each other.

Interested in learning more about Managing Disruption? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Managing Disruption here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Mark Bridges

I blog about various management frameworks, from Strategic Planning to Digital Transformation to Change Management.