“Trump will win the presidency when the Cubs win the World Series.”
I had to laugh when I first heard that statement. Without a doubt, we live in an age where the improbable is a daily occurrence.
Regardless of our sports affiliation or political stance, we have to step back from time to time, smile, and tip our hats to a world that is never dull. In an ever-shifting landscape, new ideas and technologies constantly materialize as “blips” on the radar. Often we find ourselves dog paddling to stay “in the know” about the “latest and greatest.” And so often, yesterday’s rules do not always apply.
Basically, the path to long-term success is a moving staircase at Hogwarts.
What do we need to navigate the moving staircase?
Don’t get me wrong. In the end, intelligence, talent, and knowledge do make the day run more smoothly. These traits will always play powerful roles in our success or failure. However, if we acquire new information without adjusting in response to it, we stagnate.
And eventually, “stagnant” smells of death.
The argument has been made (a valid one, in my opinion) that adaptability, the ability to adjust to new conditions, is the highest form of intelligence.
Skills, knowledge, and talent can conjure success in the short term, but to sustain success, we must be able (and willing!) to adapt. A financially sound business with a skilled workforce and a solid market base may be successful in the short term. Over the long term, the rubber hits the road in the capacity of the business to adjust to a shifting environment.
No matter how successful, what doesn’t adapt doesn’t survive. Kodak’s little yellow boxes were once recognized all over the world as a part of everyday life. In 1990, the company had 145,000 employees and annual sales of $19 billion. By 2015, annual sales had dwindled to $2 billion, and Kodak employed only 8,000 worldwide. What happened to this iconic company? Kodak had plentiful talent, skill, and knowledge. In the end, Kodak paid a lofty price for its failure to adapt to the advent of the digital age.
Customers’ needs are constantly changing. The world’s ability to meet those needs is shifting. As a business, the challenge we face is finding our place in all of it.
Adaptability is a living, breathing process that takes place outside of the box.
Evaluate the landscape. Carve our niche. Fine tune the evaluation process.
Slide down the banister.
Re-evaluate landscape. Carve new niche. Fine tune the new evaluation process.
Jump over to the next staircase…
(And, by all means, beware of the goat.)
Lyna Landis is the manager of marketing and communications of Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC.