- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
Change is a fact of life, and it’s a big fact of business. Yet despite this ostensibly being common knowledge, many businesses struggle to adapt to changes in their industry or the overall market. Being an adaptable business means you’ll be around over the long haul instead of earning modest profits over the short term and fizzling out all too quickly.
Today, let’s take a look at how to become better at adapting to change from a business’ perspective. If you learn well, you can weather the next economic storm or take advantage of the next big development in your industry.
ACCEPT THAT CHANGE IS INEVITABLE
The first step to becoming better at adapting to change in business is to accept that change is inevitable, no matter how stable the market is right now. But just because change may require you to alter your business practices, strategy, or worker skills, it doesn’t mean that your business is in danger of failing.
Instead, you can always look to change as an opportunity to adopt or improve your business model for even greater profits. Indeed, the best way to adapt to change is to accept that it’s coming no matter what, so you ought to try to turn it into something positive for you and your organization rather than lament the way things used to be.
The inevitability of change is important for capitalism as a whole, too. Only suitable companies and organizations adapt and manage to remain profitable over the long-term. Companies that stagnate necessarily go out of business.
ALWAYS LEARN FROM FAILURES
If change is inevitable, chances are you’ll make a few mistakes in your attempts to adapt properly. Maybe you implement a product manufacturing process that doesn’t work out for your facility. Or maybe you start hiring employees and training them in skills that end up not being very useful for your industry.
Whatever the case, you’ll eventually fail in some way or another as you struggle to adapt to changing circumstances, business models, and consumer bases. But failure in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing.
Rather, failure is necessary if you ever want to learn and improve your business dramatically. Failure is the best way to gather valuable experience about your industry, your own personal limits, and the limitations of your current business model. Failure can sometimes show you, much better than success, how you need to change and what might work better for your unique situation.
Consider a fast food restaurant that loses profits for a quarter, but that also learns that their customers are particularly interested in one type of food they offer. Using the information from this failure, such a restaurant could pivot and do even better in the next quarter.
Ultimately, the lesson is that you should try to learn from failures instead of stewing in them. Failure is an opportunity for growth, not for shame.
ADD AND UTILIZE FEEDBACK LOOPS
Feedback loops are tremendously important for both managers and workers. As a manager, you have a responsibility to provide feedback to your employees so they can do the best jobs possible and fulfill their duties properly. By the same token, you should have an open-door policy that allows employees to provide you with feedback regarding your own performance and the status of the organization as a whole.
Feedback loops are super important if everyone within them is mature and understanding of one another. They can help everyone on a team or in a company improve from the bottom up. Such a workforce will undoubtedly be better prepared for future changes and be ahead of the curve when real industry shakeups roll around.
In a nutshell, feedback loops can help you become better at adapting to change by helping you identify pain points and places where you can improve before you fail or lose money.
FOCUS ON PROGRESS, EVEN IN TIMES OF STAGNATION
If you want to become better at adapting to change, you should always focus on progress within your organization, even if things are currently going great. Always be looking to improve every level of your business, from your manufacturing or production centers to your client relations teams to your customer service representatives.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should tear down systems that are currently working. But you should be looking to improve them or develop alternative versions of processes and systems in case your industry changes.
For example, companies who already had work from home infrastructure in place when COVID-19 rolled around were well prepared when nation-wide calls to work from home rang out. Such companies were able to adapt much more nimbly than their competitors.
By looking into the unique opportunities that telecommunications and digital equipment provides, those companies adapted, and arguably even thrived, from the challenges the coronavirus brought to every industry.
A workplace that can adapt to change effectively must also promote accountability across the board. Managers and workers need to take responsibility for their actions so they can properly receive feedback and improve their behaviors.
You won’t be able to adapt to change effectively if your workforce (and your managers, including yourself) cannot be held accountable for their mistakes – and their victories! An accountable workforce will promote an agile yet sturdy workplace culture that can weather any storm and improve when necessary.
DISCOURAGE CONFORMITY IN YOUR WORKPLACE’S CULTURE
Lastly, you can make your business better at adapting to change if you discourage widespread conformity in your workplace’s culture. Your workplace’s culture can determine how insular your community is, how receptive your employees and processes are to new ideas, and how resilient you will be against failure and change.
Conformity means that no one in your workplace looks for new or improved ways of doing things, and new ideas are more often than not shut down. But a diverse and dynamic workplace culture will be well suited to changes regardless of when they come. In fact, they might already have solutions for future problems that haven’t yet knocked on your door!
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell