Has adaptability become the new competitive advantage

Published: 13th August 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has brought with it a tremendous amount of uncertainty for organisations around the globe. Now, things are changing daily and, even before the pandemic hit, there was a tremendous amount of instability in many markets and industries. In order for organisations to weather the storm of the pandemic and make it through the other side successfully they’ve had to become more agile. Organisations who are adaptable and flexible now undoubtedly have the competitive advantage over those who lack these traits. 

In an unpredictable environment, it’s impossible for organisations to plan in the same way as they did before. Traditional forecasting and analysis that is at the heart of strategic planning is simply too changeable in today’s business landscape. When things are changing so much and so quickly, putting together one-year, five-year or ten-year plans seems remiss, as it could soon become irrelevant if the situation changes. 

In the current economic climate, organisations who are able to rapidly adapt and learn to do new things when necessary are better able to change focus, alter their business model and produce solutions. This has become increasingly just as important, or even more important, than the ability to position, scale and produce a quality offering – all things which previously would have almost guaranteed competitive advantage. 

Now, the organisations who thrive are those who are able to read, interpret and act quickly upon any signals of change, no matter how large or small. Organisations who are able to experiment, produce solutions swiftly and economically and alter their business model and key strategies if required are those who are better able to succeed during turbulent times. 

One of the key things organisations can look to utilise in order to help them be as adaptable and agile as possible is the people who work for them. Having leaders and employees who are flexible and adaptable to change can make all the difference. Leaders and managers who are able to examine risks and uncertainties that could significantly affect the company instead of simply focusing on the business plan or model without thought for disruption are key. This is why it’s crucial to properly assess each potential new hire during the recruitment process to ensure they have the qualities your organisation needs in an ever-changing world. 

The speed at which decisions are made is a big part of how quickly organisations are able to pivot when required. In a fast-moving environment, organisations need to be able to accelerate change by making decisions quickly and being able to implement changes as quickly as is possible. This may mean making alterations to the process by which decisions are traditionally made when the need for rapid change arises and is something organisations should consider. 

For organisations in unstable and unpredictable industries, being able to adapt quicker than your competitors may be the difference between survival and failure. In fast-moving environments, organisations need to make decisions, produce solutions and change their offering if necessary as quickly as possible in order to pivot and stay ahead of their competitors. Those who can do this will potentially far more likely to succeed than those who are stuck with lengthy decision making processes and inflexible leadership and managerial styles.