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Adaptability: Key to Sustained Organisational Success

“In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin may have been correct about the inevitably of death and taxes, but they are not the only certainty in life. You can definitely add change to the list.

Describing change and the pace of change and the increased complexity it creates as a critical factor of modern life is rather a cliché. It is so much a factor of life that, as long ago as 2010, managing it was cited as the biggest concern for C-Suite executives. (IBM: Capitalizing on Complexity. Insights from the Global Chief Executive Study)  Yet it seems odd how little the need for adaptability follows from such discussion. Or, even worse, how little adaptability is recognised as being a people management issue.  

As we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic there is widespread talk about “things returning to normal.” This seems to contradict earlier forecasts of a “new normal” because things would not return to the way they were. Whichever way you look at it, the likelihood is that reality lies somewhere between the two: for some it may well be a return to pre-pandemic processes, while for others operations may be radically different. Organisationally, this demands being able to manage both, and the whole gamut in between. Naturally this will not be easy.

It will, however, be considerably easier if you reconsider the phrase “sustained organisational success” and think about what it means, what it entails, and how you propose to achieve it. Ultimately, your organisational success depends on recognising and meeting your customers’ needs and wants. Thus the first question you need to answer is, “How much have these changed?” And, if they have changed, “What are the implications for your business?”  

How well can you answer those questions? In all likelihood you are unlikely to be best placed to do so. Your customer-facing employees – the people who interact with the customer and who have the relationship with them – are going to be in a far better position than you to identify shifting patterns. Even then, their ability to respond to the changes will be shaped by the parameters within which they operate. If they are restricted by existing systems and an inability to request or make the necessary changes, they are going to feel demoralised, powerless and – ultimately – pretty frustrated. And so will you!

Your employees cannot be responsive and adaptive, if you do not empower them sufficiently to do what the situation demands. Sustained organisational success goes even further. It demands that your people are permanently placed in a position where they can respond and adapt to changing circumstances and situations. Indeed, if you want to be in a position where you can meet and master the complexity identified in the IBM survey; a responsive, adaptable and continuously improving, organisation you should consider it an imperative.

Unless you make a concerted effort to make your organisation more adaptable you will never see it achieve the sustained organisational success it is capable of, or that your employees deserve.    


If you like what you have read contact me today to explore how to make your organisation more adaptable to break though logjams that are inhibiting your business and how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model could help you value your people and provide the catalyst to help you create an organic culture where everyone cares and the business becomes our business, embedding continuous improvement that engenders ‘love at work’ and transforms – and sustains – organic business performance.


Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organizational culture model that helps transform organizational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.


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