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Innovation and disruption leadership. Leadership as a management aid in this new era, by Andrés Raya (MBA 89)

Programa de continuidad | Spanish

April 10 OF 2018 from 07:30 PM to 09:00 PM


Conference about innovation leadership and disruption

ESADE Alumni held a conference by Andrés Raya, co-director of ESADE’s People Leadership and Team Management Programme, about the crucial role of innovation leadership and disruption in different stages of automation.

Nikolai Kondratiev was the first person to define the different long-term economic cycles over time. The last stage described by the Russian economist is stage five: the stage of ITC and the onset of internet (1980s onwards). The idea of a subsequent phase, stage six, is not impossible although what exactly it will be like is not known. “It used to be associated with nanotechnology, biotechnology and generating energy but now it is more along the lines of artificial intelligence and digitisation,” said Andrés Raya.

Although the automation of processes is partly a matter for concern, the speaker was optimistic about the chance of finding solutions for complex issues such as, for example, a dearth of resources. Developments such as artificial intelligence transform the entire industrial scenario. “By 2027, at least 30% of the activities of 60% of employees will be automated, and this will affect us all,” said Raya.

One function of companies is to adapt to this new scenario by making changes to their corporate leadership and management. The speaker suggested four ways to adapt, at least two of which two must be mandatory.

1.    Ability to formulate new ways of operating based on slowing down, reconfirming and adjusting the existing strategy.
2.    Finding out about and perceiving changes in the environment. Conveying the information gathered to the entire company in order to trigger a response.
3.    Create prototypes and try out strategies. Change the traditional negative attitude to failure and foster the idea that mistakes help people improve.
4.    Implement changes highly likely to be successful.

One of the mistakes that traditional companies often make is to view the company individually and think about launching projects first and then focussing on them. Raya wondered what would happen if a new strategy clashed with corporate culture.

One must regard the company as an organisation and take advantage of the specific skills of each person in order to achieve improvements. This involves change management methods, a shift in corporate culture in order to understand the situation, build a team and create a combined strategy. “Fifty per cent of the process starts before taking action. The road taken is more important than making it or not to the finishing line. Traditional companies tend to focus too much on the sphere of action. It’s important to remember that if things are aligned well, action comes naturally,” said the expert.

To achieve a well-founded organisation, at least 60% of staff must promote or facilitate the change, but some are always reluctant about the project. A variety of techniques can make them stop digging their heels in, such as storytelling (a combination of information and emotions) and gamification (a corporate strategy based on games featuring rewards and flow dynamics).

This will enable the company to change its hierarchy and train new operators to explore, seek out and manage new scenarios, and exploiters able to make this new strategy a reality.

Another change driven by the new stage of digitisation is the project management method: companies are commissioned to create prototypes, complete phases and ensure more profit than pain. “We used to start by defining the scope and then deciding how much time and money we could devote to achieving it. Now we do the opposite: we weigh up our time and money and then define the scope,” said Raya.

All methods have some elements in common. These are what as known as agile projects, characterised by:

-    Interaction between people: groups are set up with people from different departments who are empowered to carry out a specific project.
-    Direction communication with customers rather than negotiating a contract.
-    Self organisation in response to change: joint decision taking.

Companies increasingly choose network-based hierarchies as their collaborative model, in which the members of a group develop a strategic plan by pooling their knowledge and ideas. “One of the most important factors is to work on the basis of influence: first you have to give in order to receive. Generosity is a way of creating trust and becoming more influential,” explained Andrés Raya.

It must be remembered that mistakes only depend on the responsibility of the person making them. Failure enables us to assess possible mistakes and solve problems in order to apply methods that help improve the process of attaining success. It is not a matter of finding a permanent solution but of overcoming everyday obstacles.

Andrés Raya wound up his talk with a metaphor. “The backwards high jump or flop was invented by Fosbury but it would never have occurred to him if no one had thought of using foam matting to break his fall beforehand. Companies must provide “foam matting” in order to leap towards the new challenges of the high-tech world.”

This refresher programme uses the Student First method. The material provided must be read before the session.

ESADE Alumni invites you to this Refresher Programme session “Innovation and disruption leadership. Leadership as a management aid in this new era”, by Andrés Raya (MBA 89), academic assistant in ESADE’s department of people management and organisation, and director of the Partners’ Programme.

These are special times. The new normal is for the speed and intensity of change to be unchartered territory. The increase in productivity expected from automation and Artificial Intelligence is the greatest that humanity has ever experienced, an increase perhaps only comparable to the one triggered by the shift from Palaeolithic to Neolithic society 8,000 to 12,000 years ago. Disruption in the business world and business models, in parallel with the automation of most jobs, paints an extremely interesting and challenging arena of change.

Against this backdrop, one might wonder whether leadership and people management can make a difference to both organisations and individuals, beyond the obvious need to adapt and the advisability of a positive, proactive and resilient attitude.

The answer is obviously YES.

Concepts and tools such as Kotter’s dual-operating system, change management as an on-going process, digital competences, gamification, storytelling and the new leadership mindset are paving the way for adopting all these changes, improving the attitude and ability of the people in this entire process and preparing us better for an uncertain but promising scenario.

This will be an inverted class, i.e. the materials provided must be studied before the session which will feature contents and answer participants’ queries.



Andrés Raya

In 1989 he started working for ESADE as an academic assistant. Former managing director and vice president of Diesel Stores Spain and Guess in Spain, France and Portugal. Former managing director of Grup Pyrénées.

Since 2015 he has been the academic director and coordinator of the ESADE Executive Education corporate MBA programmes.

Since 2012 he has been the academic director of ESADE Executive Education custom programmes and head of the regional and sector partnership segment.

Since 2004 he has been the director of the ESADE Executive Education ‘People Leadership and Team Management Programme’.

He has directed institutional consulting projects and has participated in some of the most far-reaching change projects implemented in Spain in such emblematic sectors as finance and insurance.

Board member in companies in sectors such as biomedical research, regenerative medicine, distribution, fashion, ICT, advanced logistics, etc.

As a researcher, he is a co-owner of patent No. 201131906/4 “Procedure for preparing products for cell therapy or tissue engineering” in conjunction with Banc de Sang i Teixits of Barcelona. November 25, 2011.