Make Business Adaptability Skills Your Key to Success

Are you paying attention to business adaptability skills? It often is the key to business success. Your success also depends on building a change and flexibility culture with your team. Such a culture depends not only on coming up with great ideas and making them happen but also with the entire team’s thinking.

Check out our thoughts on team leverage.


Within five years, if you’re in the same business you are in now, you’re going to be out of business.
-Peter Drucker

Related post: 9 Secrets to the Chipotle Culture and Employee Engagement Success


No business attribute is more important today as that of adaptability skills, as many, many businesses are on the brink of irrelevance … unless they change as fast as change itself. You need to have and try many creative business ideas as often as possible … take to heart what Peter Drucker had to say in the quote shown above. That is why this needs to be a part of the culture of your business.


While nimble startups chasing the next trend are exciting, the truth is that companies rarely succeed by adapting to market events. Rather, successful firms prevail by shaping the future. That can’t be done through agility alone, but takes years of preparation to achieve. The truth is that once you find yourself in a position where you need to adapt, it’s usually too late.


It’s also important to recognize that culture comes from the people—it is the people. Think about the individuals within your organization—what are their personalities like? Who are they outside of work? What tickles their fancy? All of these things lend to the culture of your organization, and ultimately your products


We live in a business world accelerating at a dizzying speed and teeming with ruthless competition. As most of the substantial advantages of the past have become commoditized, creativity has become the currency of success.  A 2010 study of 1,500 CEOs indicated that leaders rank creativity as No. 1 leadership attribute needed for prosperity. It’s the one thing that can’t be outsourced; the one thing that’s the lifeblood of sustainable competitive advantage.


Unfortunately, most companies fail to unleash their most valuable resources: human creativity, imagination, and original thinking. They lack a systematic approach to building a culture of innovation and then wonder why they keep getting beaten to the punch.


Creative change and adaptability could become the main strengths of your company and the pillars of its long-term growth and success.2


Here are some useful tips on how to help move toward an adaptability culture in your business:


Encourage curiously, imaginative minds

We are big believers in change and adaptation. They contribute heavily to creative minds. We’re first curious about something, and it’s that curiosity that drives us to create new ideas. Try to think of inventors who created something without first being curious or imaginative. Difficult isn’t it?


Adaptability skills … create spirit of collaboration

Your employees should feel like members of one big family. They are the greatest assets of your business.


Creativity doesn’t often happen in a vacuum. As the author Steve Johnson says, chance favors the connected minds. When people are together, talking, laughing, thinking, exploring — they’re going to throw out ideas. These thoughts trigger something in someone else’s mind, and it snowballs. Before long, this group of folks has developed a creative change that wouldn’t have been possible without the mutual collaboration.


Don’t fall prey to the myth that only some people are adaptable and you’re not one of the chosen few. We are all adaptable; it’s just a matter of figuring out in what way. So find things you’re curious about, and that are interesting to you, use your imagination a little, stay motivated and work at it, and surround yourself with others who are doing the same.



business adaptability
Business adaptability.



Importance of adaptability … creative employees

Creativity drives change and adaptability and can be taught. Many courses teach people different creative techniques. Give your employees opportunity to acquire skills that will help them become more productive and proficient in what they are doing.




Business adaptability … encourage new ideas to

Types of adaptability
Types of adaptability.

Benefits of being adaptable.


People should be promoted and inspired to openly and freely share ideas for a change. There should be no censorship in the creative process and ideas for a change. Welcome everyone to contribute their thoughts to improving, from the couriers and drivers to the top managers.



Adaptability in business example … maximize diversity

Ziba, a top innovation consulting firm in Portland, has an “Ambassador Program,” which allows employees to spend three months working in other disciplines, known as “tribes.”  During that time, the Ambassador team member participates as part of those teams. This helps to create an understanding of another world. That diversity of thought and perspective, in turn, fuels connection and adaptability.  It also translates to better business results.


Diversity in all its shapes, colors, and flavors helps build a culture of change. The variety of people and thought; diversity of work experiences, religions, nationalities, hobbies, political beliefs, races, sexual preference, age, musical tastes, and even favorite sports teams. The more diversity, the better.



Encourage autonomy

We all prefer control over our environments.  According to a 2008 study by Harvard University, there is a direct correlation between people who have the ability to call their shots and the value of their change and adaptability. An employee who has to run every tiny detail by her boss for approval will quickly become numb to the environment of change.


Granting autonomy involves extending trust. By definition, your team may make decisions you would have done differently.  The key is to provide a clear message of what results you are looking for or what problem you want the team to solve.  From there, you need to extend trust and let them do their best work.



Start small

ITW is a diversified manufacturing company that produces a wide array of products from industrial packaging to power systems and electronics to food equipment to construction products. It is a highly profitable company nearly 100 years old. This big, old company, which is nestled in a traditional industry, thinks small.


The leaders at ITW believe that being nimble, hungry, and entrepreneurial are the ingredients for business success. As a result, any time a business unit reaches $200 million in revenue, the division “mutates” into two $100 million units. Like an ameba, the unit subdivides, so it stays hungry and nimble.  The company would rather have ten independently run and innovative $100 million units than a single, bureaucratic, and clunky $1 billion unit. Guess what? It’s a great environment of change and adaptation.


Companies that can stay more curious and nimble have a better ability to change and adapt more quickly. They have a stronger sense of urgency and are not afraid to embrace change.  They put their curiosity, imagination, and creativity to work



Motivate by sharing

Most of the time, you’ve got to want to be adaptable to be adaptable. You’ve got to work for the change to be able to change.


But every once in a while someone will walk into my office, look around at the walls and ask how I came up with some of the ideas. Or we’ll be in a meeting, and something will click for me as I’m scribbling in my little black notebook.


What most people don’t know is that I work on it. Yes and I practice. I think people believe that you’ve either got it or you don’t, but I think everyone adapts in their way.


So I started doing things to challenge myself to change. Sometimes they were business-related. Other times they weren’t. And now I have an arsenal of stuff that I do on a regular basis to stretch my mind. It’s trying to do creative thinking and practice a consistent habit.

 Related post: Adaptation … 5 Awesome Business Examples for Study


adaptability the new competitive_advantages
Adaptability the new competitive advantages.

Create a changing climate

Always look for alternatives, improvements, and non-standard ways of solving problems. Many of ideas that your team will come up with will be unfit, some of them will be excellent, and a few will be brilliant. Sometimes one brilliant idea is all it takes to make the huge business success.



The bottom line


As you can see, some of these ideas do not take much time and money to implement. Start from small and transform your company step by step. Creating a change and adaptation culture is a process that takes time, but as the first creative ideas become a reality, and the first results show up, both you and your employees will appreciate the benefits.


Things change. New technologies come along. Leaders fail to adapt, as Clayton Christensen pointed out 17 years ago in “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” But doing nothing only accelerates the results.


latest book 


So what’s the conclusion? The conclusion is there is no conclusion. There is only the next step. And that next step is entirely up to you.


 It’s up to you to keep improving your continuous learning. Lessons are all around you. In many situations, your competitor may be providing the ideas and or inspiration. But the key is in knowing that it is within you already.


All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that struggle gets better every day you learn and apply new lessons.


When things go wrong, what’s most important is your next step.


 Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.


 Are you devoting enough energy to improving your continuous learning for yourself and your team?


 Do you have a lesson about making your lifelong learning better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?


 Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+Twitter, and LinkedIn.  


Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change.  We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.


More reading on business challenges from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:

13 Requirements to Improve Business Performance

6 Ways Biases Destroy Decision Making Results

How to Change the World … 9 Amazing Ways


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Make Business Adaptability Skills Your Key to Success