Better to Adapt than Change


When I was in college when I had the good fortune to meet a well respected Time magazine journalist who set me straight on the importance of language – using words with their proper meaning – I have been a stickler – read pain in the …. – ever since. This obliges me to actually listen to others. But, more importantly, I must hearwhat they are saying. So, the other night, for the umpteenth time, someone was talking about how they don’t like to change things in their life and hairs on my back started to rise.

Let’s face it, people only rarely change. On the other hand, people do adapt to changes they perceive in their lives!

Basically, as I learned in my high school physics class, like electrons, we all live at our lowest energy level until such a time when some outside stimulus makes us – or the electron – move to a higher energy state. It is the environment that changes and we adapt to that change. Or, as Darwin’s Theory of Evolution states the most adaptable of the species will survive.

This same frame of reference is pertinent to leading an organization. Way too often, the leaders I speak with want to throw the baby out with the bath water by changing almost everything in their company. This is simply way too destructive and almost never provides the results they seek. Change brings about a break from the company’s foundation, turning it into a Frankenstein monster.

Adaptation is a much more subtle approach for a business responding to a new environment. Regardless of the company’s stage of growth, adaptability means reducing – not eliminating – the influence of the past while placing more importance on some other aspect of the present.

In the ROKC™ Method, we explicitly recognize that the asset on which the business is built, the Key Component, will lose its ability to provide customers with the competitive advantage they seek. Consequently, if the business is to survive, it will to be enhance the value it creates by focusing on a new Key Component. If I think back on my college economics class, this is called the law of diminishing returns. Over time, the returns the first Key Component provides will diminish requiring the focus to change to a new Key Component that will provide higher returns. When the second Key Component wanes, focus will pass to a new one, then another and another and another, and so on into the future.

ROKC_CA_over_TimeLayer upon layer, the business adapts to changing conditions but strengthens itself around its each preceding Key Component.

If your business is challenged by changing market conditions don’t listen to anyone who tells you have to change. However, do listen and hear those who tell you your company needs to adapt.