How to be adaptable in a fast-moving environment

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." When he wrote the Origin of Species in 1859, Charles Darwin wasn’t thinking of business. But an organization that adapts and moves with the times is one that is more likely to succeed.

Technology has revolutionized our world, enabled us to meet anywhere in the world and brought with it many great things. It’s also made it more essential than ever for businesses to be adaptable. Where decisions could have taken weeks or months to make - many now need to be done in hours or minutes. Adaptability is key to making this possible, so let's explore how.

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Understand why you need to be adaptable

It’s talked a lot about in business, but what is adaptability? Essentially, it's the ability to quickly and effectively respond to changes in the marketplace or within your own organization. Meet the right people and make a decision without unnecessary delays that could cost the business dearly. 

You might be thinking, "well, of course, adaptability is important" but more often than not, businesses that close are ones that failed to keep up with the times. For instance, your competitor used automated scheduling where you chose to do it all manually. Being adaptable can mean the difference between thriving in a rapidly changing landscape and getting left behind. 

When you're adaptable, you're able to pivot your strategies as needed and make quick decisions. Not only can this help you to continue growing, but will lead to increased productivity and can even help reduce stress for you and your team.

Identify areas of your business that need adaptability 

When it comes to adaptability, it's important to take a holistic approach and consider how it affects every aspect of your business. Will adopting video conferencing help your sales team exceed its targets? Or will automating product ordering reduce waste? Operations, marketing and customer service all have different needs, so let’s see look at each of these in turn.

Operations are the backbone of your business and include everything from product distribution to inventory management. Your team needs to plan ahead and talk to everyone in the chain. If there are sudden changes in the market, for instance, a key component you use becomes unavailable, your operations team can quickly switch to plan B to stay on top. 

When it comes to marketing, the way products and services are promoted is constantly changing. Platforms come and go, algorithms are refined and consumer behavior shifts. If you're not able to adapt to this, your marketing efforts may fall flat. For example, if you’re trying to get a good placement on Google but not using the right keywords, you could find competitors outranking you on relevant searches. Be sure to make a poll and schedule regular meetings with your marketing team to understand how they are staying ahead of the curve.

Finally, customer service. Happy customers are key to the success of any business. As the marketplace changes, so do customer expectations. Quicker replies and ease of use are just a few things your customers will expect. If you're not able to adapt to these changes and provide a continually high level of service, you may find people take their business elsewhere. If you need to speak to customers, Doodle’s availability calendar tool Booking Page lets you create a link to share with them so they can find time to talk to you.

Strategies for getting adaptable

So how do you go about being adaptable? Well, there are a number of things you can do; including being open to change, being proactive and developing a growth mindset.

Being open to change sounds really obvious but, when it comes to implementation, it can be hard. You’ve built your business up, established the processes and set the recurring meetings. However, if you don’t continually review how you do things you'll miss out on opportunities to grow and improve. Be sure to follow up with your team, try to approach changes with an open mind and consider how they could benefit your business.

It’s often the case we wait for things to happen rather than plan ahead. Instead of waiting for changes to happen, take the initiative and make changes yourself. Being proactive means staying on top of industry trends, keeping an eye on your competition and being ready to change your strategies when needed. 

It’s not always easy to do, but to be adaptable, you need to have a growth mindset. Approach challenges with a positive attitude and see them as opportunities for growth - don’t instantly get defensive and look for an out. This should help because when you’re less resistant to change, you’re more open to learning new things. This doesn't mean you have to become the eternal optimist (though you may want to be), but it's important to try to see the potential for growth in every situation. If you’re not sure how to start, start small. Try automating your schedule to eliminate back-and-forth emails and free up time for other things.

Move with the times

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