Why Wholesome Leadership is Needed in a World of Disruption

By Arun Wakhlu

The external environment for an organization today can be confusing, simply because things change so fast, making it difficult for leaders to get a handle on them, and take the right decisions. This used to be called VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous, but these days I prefer RUPT – Rapid, Unpredictable, Paradoxical and Tangled.

When the world is RUPT, you can be sure that someone will DISRUPT! Someone will come out with a completely new paradigm, possibly a product or service so revolutionary that it leaves everyone else behind.

The only way to survive in this RUPT world is for us to be the ones who DISRUPT, find new paradigms and solutions that will be relevant in the future.

Organizations that couldn’t do this fell by the wayside, even one-time giants like Kodak, who didn’t see the impact of digital photography on their business, or Xerox, who couldn’t match the competitive costing of Canon.

Today, there are even more revolutionary and far-reaching changes affecting the business environment. The reality of today has caught up with the science fiction of only some years ago. An example is a ‘medical tricorder’ in the Star Trek TV serial, where many medical parameters of a person could be gauged by a single device, and that too, remotely. Today, the technology exists for this to be possible.

Those companies will survive that will be able to continuously deliver value to all stakeholders.

It’s clear that everything will be disrupted, the only question is ‘when?’.

So how can the leaders of today navigate this disruption and create organizations that flourish in the future? I will share two key concepts that are very valuable in this context.

The OODA Loop:

A model created by Col John Boyd of the US Airforce, who’s considered the ‘father’ of the F-16, the OODA loop was defined for combat flying, but is so relevant to business. OODA is an acronym for :

  • Observeloop
  • Orient
  • Decide
  • Act.

Before we see how it applies to business, let’s understand it in its original context – combat flying. If I’m a fighter pilot, I need to constantly see what the enemy pilot is doing with his aircraft. I need to observe closely, and in 360 degrees. Then, based on the moves he’s making, I have to orient my thinking very fast, and, with the help of my thinking, knowledge, intuition and creativity, I must evaluate my options. Next, I need to outsmart him, and decide on what would be the best course of action for me. Then of course, I must act based on my decision. But in the meantime, he has moved as well, and once again, I must observe his moves – that’s why OODA is a loop.

Let’s see how OODA applies in our world of work.


We need to observe how the world is changing, and our perception needs to be accurate. But perception is not a simple thing, it’s a complex thing, because you can see the same thing in many different ways. You may have to look beyond the obvious, and a lot of good entrepreneurial practice comes from good observation.

What’s happening in your field of work? What will be the impact of high speed communication, such as 4G, or of the Internet of Things (IoT)? Can you find new ways to offer value to your customers, before competitors do? We need to observe culture, values, technology and cost structures to find the answers to some of these questions.


When you observe in 360 degrees, you may gather intelligence about many different types of development and changes. Now the challenge is to integrate this knowledge, and orient yourselves as to what your choices are. This is the time when you need to innovate and connect the dots, using creative thinking, and even your intuition.

For instance, in my work in Learning & Development, I can see that 4G will revolutionize communication and connection. I can also see the new concept of Accelerated Learning, and I know that medical science is making rapid strides in the area of neurosciences. Can I integrate these seemingly unconnected developments and create the connection? Can I disrupt learning by providing breakthrough value through this integration?

You have used your creativity and innovation to identify the choices before you, now you need to decide which choice you make. Is it new product development, or a new services, or a new way to manage operations and costs, or delivery? What’s your chosen mode of disruption?

Act on your decision. There are new and interesting ways to launch, such as ‘frugal experimentation’. In today’s world, you need to move fast. Before others even know what’s happening, you have already observed, oriented, decided and acted.

By Arun Wakhlu


7 thoughts on “Why Wholesome Leadership is Needed in a World of Disruption


    Nice article

    1. Thank you for your appreciation Prakash. We can all be creative if we are in touch with our innate creative intelligence. That is the real Prakash!

  2. Sumita says:

    so true and apt.

    1. Thank you Sumita. Being anchored in the unchanging space of Awareness within vouchsafes creative responses and also freedom to respond quickly, creatively and peacefully when disruption happens.

  3. K. K. Chug says:

    In the market, one may be new and one may be there for a long time. Strategy may be different but the aim, be that of new one or the one in the market, is the same – to capture the market. We have seen many examples. While Fiat or Ambassador is totally forgotten model but Maruti adjusted itself very quickly to stem the growth of Hyundai. We may give different names but the game remains the same. Yes, no doubt, in fast changing world, strategy has to be still faster so as to remain abreast with what is happening around for establishment, more so for survival or to say remain at the top.

  4. Pawan Dua says:

    Excellent Article. Looks like each one needs to become Astrologer to deal with RUPT.

  5. Vinay Pandey says:

    A good article! In a RUPT world, observing from a 360 degree approach, orienting one’s thinking to the new realities and acting or responding proactively can certainly give you a decisive advantage.

    In a competitive scenario, there are three kinds of people – those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened!

    To stay in the first category, a leader needs to stretch her thinking and create an innovative strategy that reinvents the game. In their pathbreaking research on ‘blue ocean strategy’, authors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne suggest looking for unexplored and untapped spaces to create new business models for serving uncontested markets or needs. Consider what OYO and Patanjali have achieved in a short space of time in our country. Virgin Galactic’s futuristic ‘space tourism’ promoted by Sir Richard Branson, is also a case in point.

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