Business is perpetually changing - this is an unavoidable fact that sooner or later, all businesses will have to come to terms with. It isn’t uncommon to come across businesses determined to stick to the processes and approaches that got them to where they are today - the thing is, the business environment is constantly changing, and for businesses to be successful they need to keep up with it.
Take the Harvard Business Review’s word for it - the volatility of business operating margins has more than doubled, despite being largely static since the 1950s.
Clearly, the same approaches that might work today - whether it is in regard to sales, marketing, management, development or any other business function - aren’t guaranteed to work in the future. Consider developments in technology, shifts in culture and consumer demand, and environmental and economic impacts (COVID-19, for example). These are all constantly evolving factors that immensely influence the way businesses operate, yet businesses surprisingly often fail to focus on these factors in their strategy and development.
This is where the importance of adaptability, innovation and change becomes clear - these are aspects of business that need to be considered as more than just an afterthought. Learning to adapt and stay ahead in a constantly evolving business environment is the key to remaining competitive, maintaining growth, identifying opportunities for success, and ultimately ensuring that you don’t get left behind.
Yes, innovation is important in today’s business environment. Knowing this is one thing, but genuinely understanding change, accepting it and being prepared to adapt with it is another. While businesses often claim to take innovation into account, they often miss the mark.
Business approaches and workflows, as well as consumer needs and behaviour are always progressing - as people and technology continue to evolve, innovation means having foresight and being ready with a solution to these challenges, as they happen.
Accounting for this change isn’t a straightforward task with one route - there are a number of areas and ways in which you can promote a culture of innovation, whether it is within yourself, or as a broader business culture.
Having an understanding of when and how to adapt comes from a mindset of learning. Knowledge is power - having strong, relevant knowledge surrounding how you run your business and what your industry is like is crucial in being ready for change.
In today's world, knowledge and education is flexible and accessible with platforms such as Courses, and the value they can provide to business and entrepreneurship is immeasurable.
Not only is learning the key to understanding success as your business currently stands - understanding your position within the competition and market means that you can identify gaps and opportunities that can provide you with a significant edge looking forward.
While focusing on change on a personal level is a necessary and crucial part of the process behind solidifying innovation within your business, others might not be on the same page. Even if you are in a position where you can make decisions that integrate objectives of change and adaptation, you will need to communicate the core ideas behind these changes.
While constantly learning will ensure that you have a future-proofed business mindset, you will need to take measures to actively implement innovation and change throughout your company. This means redefining your business culture as a whole, through leading by example, setting goals and objectives, and clearly demonstrating changes in company culture and direction.
The focus that both leaders and team members give to adaptability and change, in addition to securing future business viability, is an important example as seen by stakeholders of a company. Whether this is in regard to employees, customers or any other person with an interest in the business, demonstrating a focus and consideration for the future means that the company has long term plans and a strong knowledge of their future trajectory.
Ultimately, change is inevitable - this is an unavoidable and daunting fact that thanks to COVID-19 in particular, many people are having to come to terms with. In business, there seems to be an often present attitude of avoidance when it comes to change - many leaders fail to realise that change is what provides the opportunity for success.
Therefore, innovate, look to the future, keep an eye on the competition, and have a comprehensive strategy. Be sure to understand the success metrics you need to measure when putting innovation into action. Implementation aside, having the willingness to adapt to change, and the foresight to anticipate it are skills that are invaluable when it comes to successful business.
This report draws on our work driving change at large companies as well as from thought leadership in the space of not just management literature, but also evolutionary biology, psychology and sociology, because in order to see things clearly and influence human behaviour, we need to think holistically.