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Disrupted!: How to Create the Future When the Old Rules are Broken

Disrupted!: How to Create the Future When the Old Rules are Broken

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Disrupted!: How to Create the Future When the Old Rules are Broken

87 pages
1 hour
Nov 14, 2020


The world is on a knife edge. The current pandemic has brought into sharp focus the overhanging questions about how we work and how we live. All of our ecological and human systems are stressed and failing, and the human beings operating in the systems are distressed in trying to cope with the magnitude of change thrust on them.

All of our clients are conscious of the impending confluence of shifts in our economic, political, democratic, trading systems, and see how these sit in a world of massive technological change and environmental catastrophe. It is easy to despair at the magnitude of the shifts, but despair doesn’t butter any bread. What is needed is effective and practical innovation.

Our clients hire us to help them find ways to respond and to develop the leadership styles and collaboration practices that make a different future possible. Everyone is working on this now. Our book remains a frontier book because very few companies or organisations have got this right yet. This is the book of the moment that will help practical leaders to create the world of today and tomorrow.

The work arises out of the authors’ 20 years’ + experience working with organisations of all sizes in all sectors on the strategy and change challenges outlined above.
Nov 14, 2020

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Disrupted! - Philippa Hardman

Copyright © 2020 Philippa Hardman and Chris Nichols

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, this publication may only be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form or by any means, with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.


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Tel: 0116 279 2299

Email: books@troubador.co.uk

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Twitter: @matadorbooks

ISBN 9781800468139

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Matador is an imprint of Troubador Publishing Ltd

To our past, present and future clients, with whom all of this is developed and through whom the world is changed.



1 The Knife Edge

2 Do It!

3 The Inner Obstacles

4 The Organisational Obstacles

5 A Never-Ending Frontier


About the Authors


We’ve spent twenty years as agents of disruption.

We’ve annoyed boards. We’ve been thrown out of organisations. We’ve fired clients.

But we’ve stuck at our work. We felt we had no choice. We saw that the multiple systems on which life depends were failing. So we’ve spent our time working with people, in many sectors, who saw the same thing and who became determined to rise to the creative challenge that this posed in their personal lives and in how they affected their organisations.

We’ve not become famous. No TED talks, no bestsellers. We have a niche, award-winning consulting practice doing work with executive teams, individual leaders and, through them, their organisations. Clients describe the approaches we use with them as provocative, challenging and ultimately very practical. We like to think we’ve made, and are still making, a real difference.

When we decided to put down in writing what we’ve learnt, and taught, over those years, we couldn’t find a publisher who wanted the book as we’d created it. They wanted two books. They wanted a different book. We wanted to write this book. It’s short, it’s straightforward and people need it right now. So, we’ve published it ourselves instead.

We dedicate this book to all the amazing people we have met and worked with in that time. And to everyone who picks it up, trying to address the multiple crises and systems challenges that we now face as a species.

Philippa Hardman & Chris Nichols

May 2020


We live in a time of crisis.

There are plenty of books on how to manage in such times. This is not one of those. It’s not about how to handle the first weeks of chaos; it’s about how to come out of the crisis with full focus on creating a new future, not simply replaying the game plan that led to the broken systems in the first place. It’s a book for real leaders in real organisations: the people who have to reboot and reinvent the systems that are broken. If they don’t do it, no-one else can.

Given that it’s obvious that everyone needs to become better at working with the unknown in a world of perpetual disruption, won’t this change ‘just happen’? Well, maybe, and maybe not. There’s a lot of imposed change just waiting to spring back into deep patterns (the world can’t afford that) and there’s a lot of inertia coiled and waiting to preserve those patterns. Inertia must not be allowed to win the day.

Organisations can get stuck – sooner than they think. They have structures, identities, processes: ways of being, ways of doing, ways of learning. These give rise to how the people within them see, hear and experience the world. They give rise to how people develop positions about all kinds of things, including strategies, campaigns, initiatives, stakeholder relationships, products, brands, systems, profit margins, organisational identity, culture, go-to markets and must-win battles.

Organisations become big, powerful and successful. They become known for being great at this or for having an unrivalled capacity for that. People want to join them. People in the organisation pour their energy into supporting and reinforcing these things. They fit in, get promoted, earn more money and acquire fancy titles.

All of this can work brilliantly, right up to the moment when the world becomes critically different to the world as it was. At this point, which occurs before anyone thinks there is any kind of crisis, the organisation needs to see those changes and respond. There is a moment – we call it a ‘knife edge’ – where all the great components of past success become threats to future flourishing. They start to entice the leader, the team, the whole organisation into not seeing, into not changing.

This book tells you how to stop this happening. It is full of practical ways to see more clearly, to free up stuck thinking and action, and to allow more flourishing to develop, so that your organisation learns to swim in the current of change. The alternative is decline, often slow to start with, but, also often, dramatic at the end.

The crowded horizon

Change is everywhere. Most of you will have a strong sense that there are a lot of powerful and important shifts going on in the world: ones that are filled with threats, but also opportunities. This is the stuff of the ‘horizon scanning’ that business planners and strategy gurus want us all to focus on.

They’re right. It’s worth taking a look at just some of the major changes that are (or should be) on the agenda of every organisation. The current and all-pervading virus pandemic is the most visible of these factors right now (and every organisation and every government is working out what to do as a result). But coronavirus is just the latest manifestation of failure

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