In this radically altered commercial landscape key questions have arisen.
How can leaders preserve a sense of meaning, purpose and mission within their organisations in the face of continuous, disruptive opportunity? How can we harness this energy and bring our people with us, even as traditional business models walk a line between obsolescence, disruption and powerful reinvention?
Addressing these challenges has been Wavelength’s mission since its inception.
Wavelength is only slightly older than this turbulent decade itself. Founded in 2008, our ambition has to find ways for people in leadership roles to share and exchange ideas that would help them galvanise the people within their own organisations in more meaningful ways.
Taking inspiration from around the world, we sought out the most exciting stories of transformative leadership to share and explore - from the shop-floors and boardrooms of Silicon Valley to the inspirational work of Professor Mohammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.
Over the last decade, Wavelength Connect has evolved into an inspirational six-month leadership programme. The programme continues to provide participants with the inspiration, knowledge and mindset needed to lead change and solve core organisational challenges; from service excellence, innovation and disruption, to diversity and inclusion.
This year Wavelength Connect, as usual, took a cohort of 95 leaders from a range of sectors through our unique programme of visits, events, workshops, masterclasses, and other peer to peer learning opportunities.
Together we explored themes as diverse as:
Innovation & Disruption
Diversity & Inclusion
Our Behind the Brand modules took participants literally inside some of the world’s most iconic brands in a series of curated visits. Organisations such as Liverpool Football Club, Eden Project, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, BBC, LEGO and others opened their doors to us.
Through a blend of structured and informal sessions participants had the space and stimulus to reflect in new ways on their approach to leadership.
"I have done the MBA, I have done the business school courses but Connect is in a league of its own. A truly powerful programme which has made me think differently about my leadership and my business." Frederico Santos, Customer Director, Carglass Portugal
Also in 2019, as part of our ever widening global outlook, Wavelength took 18 business leaders and entrepreneurs inside the Indian company Aravind Eyecare System. This is a company with an extraordinary mission: to eradicate needless blindness.
Participants on this trip included leaders from the BBC, Jaguar Land Rover, The Prince’s Trust, HSBC and Novartis – all organisations with a unique set of challenges and opportunities to overcome and embrace.
They took away fascinating experiences and ideas for improving and reinventing their approach to their own sectors and businesses. The story of Aravind showed how a sense of organisational meaning and mission driven by leadership can lead to the kind of innovating, agile team work that changes the world.
Participant Alice Webb, Director of BBC Children’s and Education, said:
“Aravind shows how you can maximise values, purpose, efficiency and productivity, without compromising any particular areas. This re-sets the expectation and myth that you have to focus on one or the other.”
The profound impact the trip had on our participants impressed us so much we will be returning in 2020 with our Inside Aravind programme, designed to inspire and provoke a new group of leaders to consider what a highly successful, purpose-driven business looks like.
Attention turns to China
At the same time, our focus in 2019 turned to China – the new powerhouse. Our Wavelength China tour reflected on the movement of China from the ‘world’s factory’ to a tech innovator that is literally building the future we will all inhabit.
The country is already at the forefront of the deployment of artificial intelligence, robotics, mass produced self-driving delivery vehicles and has, some would argue, taken over the West in terms of innovation.
In our visit we explored the fortunes and stories of the country’s greatest innovation success stories, Alibaba, Hema supermarkets, Neolix and Luckin.
And our Inside China programme participants felt that the leaders and stories they witnessed there were a call to action back in their own organisations:
“We attended Wavelength’s evening with Alibaba and were blown away. The potential application of AI is both breathtaking and daunting. It was invaluable to hear first-hand how this incredible business is applying it practically to create the future of retail, hospitality, financial services and the like.” Kate Guthrie Group Human Resources Director Virgin Money
We return to the USA
For almost the ten years on Wavelength USA, we have taken leaders from across the world to visit America's most admired companies. In 2020, we will meet leaders from Amazon, Airbnb, Netflix, LinkedIn and others across West Coast America. They will tell the stories of the way the most powerful and disruptive businesses have built their cultures of innovation.
We will explore how these organisations are continuing to set the agenda for future change in their sectors, through AR, Blockchain, AI, and big data, as well as how agility and imagination in leadership is impacted by scale. We will have the opportunity to meet those at the pinnacle of mature organisations, as well as the thought leaders and entrepreneurs who are reimagining the future of the digital economy.
“The programme was a real eye-opener – a wake-up call to inspire a traditionalist to get on the bus – or be run over. Disruption is now firmly on our agenda.” John Martin, Chief Executive, Ferguson PLC
But what will that future look like?
So what will happen in the decade to come?
What experiences and lessons of leadership will Connect’s participants be bringing with them when they attend our programme? Who will Wavelength be visiting?
Which leaders and nations will hold the balance of commercial power in a world still further transformed by hyper-scale technology, AI and Blockchain?
Where will the power base be in ten years time? Where will the inspiration for leaders be coming from? Will Silicon Valley still be the hub that it is now? Will Russia, India or China be leading the way instead?
How can today’s most successful, disruptive organisations retain their agility, as well as their sense of mission and purpose even as their organisations continue to grow and change.
Will they have passed the mantle of technological and business model disruption to other more hungry companies in different continents? Has that moment already passed?
The constant in all of this will be the way great leadership harnesses new ideas and defines direction of travel in ways that galvanise whole organisations to perform better and with laser focus.
And amongst all this change, Wavelength’s purpose will still hold true – continuing to make the world better through business by profoundly improving the quality of leadership.
Connect will continue to provide the opportunity, space and time for leaders to reflect, learn from each other and go back to their companies with the confidence to be better at what they do.
This is no time to stand still. What do you intend to do differently next year? Can you see the future for your organisation? Can you face the challenge of continual change? Maybe Wavelength can be the catalyst that helps that happen.