How to Make an Organization More Adaptable

by Sep 7, 2020

Business Innovation Brief Best Article

Adaptability is the key to an organization’s ability to react effectively to unexpected business conditions. Almost every organization plans on how to operate when business conditions are predictable, but the key to surviving the long term is to plan effectively how to respond to the unexpected.

Importance of Adaptability

Adaptability is key to long term success. During times like today in the middle of a global pandemic, it is the key to survival.

Giants of business industries like Myspace, Kodak, and RadioShack are mere memories today because they failed to adapt to the ever-changing business landscape.

According to McKinsey, 84% of business owners consider innovation important to their growth strategy, and 80% fear failure in the near future if they can’t adapt to changing economic environments.

As Walt Disney’s CEO Bob Iger puts it: “Innovate or die.”

Leaders set trends and excel in markets with their innovative minds and the ability to adapt to rapid changes. They have more trust from clients as compared to those who just follow trends and provide product or service copies of innovation.

“Adaptability is a trait that can induce further positive traits in individuals and organizations.”

An organization that can perform well in unexpected situations, can embrace entirely new ways of doing things. Such organizations have the technology, people power, and tools to beat competitors any time.

“Adaptive organizations are more capable of leading and setting the pace for an entire industry.”

An adaptable organization is always more capable of facing challenges and handle adversity. The people at such places are more resilient and have a renewed mindset to embrace difficult situations. As a result of their grit, they are more capable to drift through challenges swiftly.

Steve Jobs used to say: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

How to Make an Organization Adaptable

The first step to becoming more adaptable is to welcome failure. Accepting failure is different than giving up, or to quit.

Welcome Failure

To welcome failure is to acknowledge setbacks as a temporary state. A stepping stone towards learning. It’s about embracing opportunities to grow.

To ensure a culture that is welcoming of failure, includes the acceptance of different ideas from various people in the organization. It’s being able to have a pulse on weather change energizes people and introduce incentives for testing new products or services.

Welcome Learning

Another way to make an organization more adaptable is to ingrain learning. Adaptive organizations see the speed of change, and the impact of rapid globalization as a challenge.

They strive to get ahead of competitors in their respective industry. In addition to working faster and harder, it is crucial to act effectively and efficiently.

“The only way to act smart is to reflect on both failures and successes and share insights with all employees.”

This way front line employees have the context of senior leaders that can boost their ability to make decisions quickly when it’s most needed.

“To be adaptive is better than being process-focused in order to achieve business goals.”

Welcome Accountability

To achieve adaptability, it is essential to encourage accountability. It is always easier to attribute success to hard work, and failure to bad luck, but adaptable organizations are first and foremost focused on creating and empowering a culture of self-accountability.

The sense of accountability ensures the performance of tasks by every member with devotion. It promotes an environment of trust, and helps the organization avoid “cya” tactics or blame games.

Moreover, accountability is inculcated with system perspective because employees understand that their decisions not only impact the organization, but people and their families.

To make an organization adaptable, it is important for everyone to be clear about their role in contributing value. Every member of the team has the responsibility to ensure the success of the organization. Everyone needs to act as a leader and be proactive.

Welcome Innovation

Organizations have to embrace innovative ideas and make changes accordingly. To assure the inflow of ideas, it is good to hire fresh minds and gain the advantage of their recent learning. Additionally, training employees to think and execute effectively is key.

“Innovation is the basis of adaptiveness and encouraging people to think outside of the box is key to achieve it.“

It is inevitable to keep an eye on your competitor. You need to actively study to which extent they are adapting to change, and how much behind or ahead from them, you are.

“A culture of appreciation and gratitude is the best way to promote innovation.”


Adapting to change is what keeps us valuable, relevant, and at the forefront of the competitive edge. If an organization is adaptable, it embraces failure, learning, accountability and change.

Adaptive organizations seek to deliver proactive innovation, satisfy customers and other stakeholders, and lead in the business world with gratitude and intelligence.

Business Innovation Brief

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