Updated: May 17
‘Adapt or die.’ We hear it time and time again, directed at businesses in danger of extinction, but how often do we look at our own need to change in order to survive?
We can all reel off a list of organisations who did indeed ‘die’, as well as some who have brought it back from the brink or who are still clinging on to the edge, for now at least.
What we hear less about is our individual and personal need to adapt. Sure, we may make the right noises about changing to become more effective and some of us will do it and enjoy it, but how many of us carry on blithely stuck in our comfortable ruts, stuck on autopilot?
The lessons from high profile examples of failing to adapt are important because each of these businesses employed many people who individually or collectively failed to do just that.
Perhaps one of the most common examples being the video rental company Blockbuster. They successfully made the transition from VHS to DVD but failed to recognise how popular streaming services would be. The result: they got left behind and have long since been out of the race. In fact, Blockbuster was offered the chance to buy Netflix in 2000 for a snip at $50 million, considering the $157 billion it is worth at the time of writing. The reason? It was seen as a “very small niche business.”
Some have taken notice and learned from the mistakes of others. Kodak emerged from bankruptcy in 2013 to look at new technological ideas to survive and Sega, once a dominating gaming and software force to be reckoned with, have admitted that they made the wrong decisions for 20 years.
This link between organisations needing to adapt and our own need to change makes complete sense. As the demand for new ways of working, creative ideas and innovation forces business to adapt to compete and stay ahead, so too must we develop our own skillset to stay not just current, but ahead of the curve.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin, 1809
It's never too late to consider: how do you need to change and adapt? Switch off autopilot for a second, lift your head and re-evaluate the big questions that you may not have even asked yourself yet. There’s no doubt that this year has been incredibly tough so far (and will continue to be for a while longer by the look of things), so check in with where you are in how you deal with change.