By Dipo Oyewole @dipooyewole
Every living organism understands a fundamental rule for survival, aside from feeding, reproduction and the rest. It understands MOVEMENT and in this case, adaptation is the bulk of this process, without which it would be irrelevant, discarded or albeit go into extinction. The success or survival (SOS) of a business depends on this.
Every enterprise is the same; a living, breathing organism, some macro, others micro, but an organism with its place within an ecosystem. A business environment is an ecosystem that embraces this law of movement (in the right direction) vehemently. Because every level of the food chain needs to be satisfied, every level has its accrued resources, which come with their respective limitations and opportunities. Understanding that each link/level in the chain has its allocation fixed in place, most times it is designed to keep the wheel just greased enough to sustain and stifle the organisms therein, it’s nothing personal, it’s a survival tactic each particular link is designed to have in order to serve its role in the ecosystem. Keep the insiders and the outsiders out.
This explains why moving up the food chain could be quite challenging, a business transitioning from a small to a medium enterprise with it upscaling eventually could seem to be hitting a glass ceiling with all their fantastic strategies and modules. The level you want to leave is immune to change from the inside, the one you choose to move into is resistant to change from the outside. Interestingly, it’s being done daily, with transitions that defy statistical projections. It will always be done, but will you do it?
Businesses that boast of being in the Fortune 500, either currently joining the list or being knocked off it, have a key arsenal that unifies them, the former keeps firing their shots, while the latter have their weapons holstered – ADAPTATION
Recognise that timing is a cardinal element when it comes to adaptation, it is the bridge that separates the successful from the ex-successful. Most don’t see the bridge for what it is, only a mere mirage which they will fall through if they dare cross, not knowing that often times they need to build the bridge to be the first to cross over it. Several businesses have ridden the bicycle of time into their good fortune and some always seem to have a flat tyre!
Definitely, certain factors are peculiar to different markets and what makes them tick doesn’t guarantee a tock for another. But there are primary forces that cut through every market across all strata.
- CUSTOMERS: paying close attention to the appetite and ever-evolving needs of the customers/clients is a non-negligible factor to measure how you are moving with the times.
- TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT: how current you are with the technological leaps in your field and what is most obtainable to gain maximum efficiency with its introduction into your processes.
- THE COMPETITION: never be too arrogant to underestimate your competitors, they might have more than a card or two up their sleeves you might learn from, hopefully, it’s not the full deck.
- POLICIES: every business operates within an environment and most of its success hinges on prevailing winds in policies, how often they change and how easily the venture to adjust to fit into new atmosphere could be the difference between the boom and the doom for the business
Every business that has turned deaf ears to these forces have always heard the loud sounds of loss. By turning a blind eye, they have lost all sense of direction from which some are still struggling to recover from. Some businesses are living proofs of the statement “opportunity comes but once”. It is not a fact of life, but it addresses when timing is missed with certain opportunities, playing catch up will only be that, playing.
There are a few reality checks to help identify when a business is not adapting or evolving well enough to remain relevant and profitable:
- LACK OF INNOVATION: innovation, new ideas or modern ways to get things done is met by a lot of resistance in businesses. Mostly a form of sentimental attachment to the history and the success the old ways have brought the business thus far. Not embracing innovation will keep the business from going further.
- COMPLACENCY: success is always a problem when it leads to being satisfied with the status quo, nothing seems to be wrong with how things are, at least the business isn’t running at a loss. Rest assured it will soon be if changes are not made swiftly.
- NEGLIGENCE: carelessness due to inadequacies within the system, irresponsibility on the part of the operators and leaving the business to run on ‘auto-pilot’ elements without necessary supervision or intervention. Adaptation will never be on the books.
- LACK OF EXPONENTIAL GROWTH: when growth projections never seem to be met, with large margins of ‘what ifs’ in between. Moving around in circles with no obvious significant progress to show for huge inputs. The system has settled in its ways and the wagons are only circling. Urgent intervention for evolution is required.
Sometimes simply doing nothing means you are doing everything wrong. Stagnancy is never a stationary position when you are competing. If a competitor is moving forward, you are definitely going the other way, sometimes in a hurry.
Constantly being in survival mode will only get you so far. After a while, trying to barely breathe above water will get you exhausted and you might give up altogether. Because it is dependent on measuring up your performance on external indices, mostly on the progress of your competitors and other affiliates
Being in success mode, however, helps you set objectives based on your internal goals and aspirations. Understanding that you judge success in your own terms is liberating, deciding what is successful on your own terms is an ingredient for clarity to replicate it and do more
The former CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop when they were to be acquired by Microsoft in 2013 ended a speech in tears saying, “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow we lost.”
Not doing anything wrong doesn’t mean you are doing something right. Look inward and ensure you are succeeding and not just surviving. Either phase you are, adaptation is needed to truly transition from where your business it to where you want it to be.
- Oyewole: CEO/Principal Consultant, Sentinel Consulting, firstname.lastname@example.org