The New Normal
On March 1st, 2020 the world was hit with a global pandemic that literally transformed the way every business viewed themselves, their markets and their own position within them almost overnight.
Every business was immediately forced to adapt.
They adapted to become new kinds of businesses, take on new capabilities, create new ideas, initiate new collaborations and ultimately develop a whole new way of thinking.
For good or bad, one of the first statements I heard a week later came from Darwin.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent but the one most responsive to change.”
Regardless of what we believe, we cannot ignore change!
If you were to take “Adaptation Theory” into the current world you’ll see the three basic types of adaptations happening:
- Structural adaptation: change in the business model
- Physiological adaptation: new skill acquisition
- Behavioural adaptation: new thinking and systems
Every person and every organisation is currently seeking to make one or all of these adaptations.
I’m now seeing literally hundreds of ways organisations across multiple industries are adapting from the inside and outside. This can be seen in this simple innovation diagram:
The world we’re in today is no longer about whether you can change or how fast the change is happening.
It’s now about how quickly or easily you can change. It is this change that creates advantages.
I call these advantages “Hyper Adaptation”.
What is Hyper Adaptation?
I first came across the term Hyper Adaptation at a technology conference.
It was used to describe the rate in which consumers take on new technology and assimilate this into their world. Examples like the rapid rise of voice technology, cryptocurrency and AI show just how rapidly this can happen.
In a literal sense, Hyper Adaptation can be broken down into two parts:
- HYPER: Having an increased state of activity.
- ADAPTATION: The evolutionary process where a population becomes better suited for survival.
This is arguably a term that can be used to describe many times in history, but none more relevant than in 2020.
Every business is now seeing a greater than normal evolutionary need to adapt.
Hyper Adaptation is a person or organisation’s ability to adapt rapidly while creating new superior advantage(s) for long term success.
Let’s break this down…
To make thoughtful changes quickly without impeding or restricting current operations.
To create, optimise or readapt a current set of known or unknown assets, to solve an existing problem and bring long-term advantage in a critical area for you or your business.
In practice, it looks like this…
Speed of Adaptation x Superior Advantage
Sustained competitive uniqueness/superiority
It could also be described as:
Creating superior advantage through new adaptation.
The challenge is…
Not all adaptation brings superior advantage
You might be fooled into thinking that hyper adaptation is about doing things faster.
But, doing the same things faster will only get you more of the same result.
This also isn’t about a small adjustment done quickly to capture something new; although that can be helpful and may give you a short-term win, there is little long-term competitive benefit.
We see this in the example of the virtualisation of businesses today.
Almost every B2B business took on ‘virtual or enhanced virtual delivery’ as a new adaptation.
They gained a small advantage in being able to protect against significant drops in revenue and relationship equity with their customers or potential customers.
The challenge is this…
In 6 to 12 months (perhaps sooner) this won’t remain a competitive advantage. In fact, all your competitors will have the same tools, will have developed similar skill sets and be telling the exact same story “We can now deliver to you online”.
For your business, and particularly the view of who you’ll become to your customers, you must look at the actions and decisions you make more carefully.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be virtualising your business. It means we have to think differently about how we adapt.
How to take advantage of Hyper Adaptation
There is still so much more to be explored here as this is a growing area of discussion.
The ideas and application of “Hyper Adaptation” shared with my own businesses and customers are fundamentally changing our results to the point that across our business and customer base more than 60% have seen growth and not retraction during the current pandemic.
A few examples of superior advantages created:
- New risk detection software for remote working (financial services company in Europe).
- New silicone bag product that is germ resistant (manufacturing company in the US) – sold over a million units on release.
- New customer collaboration software that tells you the customer story in real-time (consulting company in the UK).
These are just a few new advantages created within six weeks. The interesting thing is that these had never before been considered until the crisis hit!
Of course, sometimes adaptation requires more than one entity. You have organisations, departments, teams, etc that are symbiotically bound to each other for survival so co-adaptations must occur. One area makes an adaptation then the other must follow to continue a mutually beneficial relationship.
Because of this, we need a framework to help us with using these big ideas well in our businesses and particularly with and for our customers.
Hyper Adaptation Principles
We first must understand two important principles. Speed of adaptation and advantage thinking.
1. Speed of Adaptation: speed to root cause and not speed to actions
- You cannot fully change what you haven’t fully understood.
- We must resist the desire to do more of the same thing faster or just bolt on anything “just because”.
- Know how your business/department/teams adapt and respond to the speed of change.
2. Advantage thinking: make your business and customers better while
making the competition irrelevant.
- What advantage do we want to create?
- What are we wanting to solve today and for the future?
- What kind of advantage can we create within the next 30 days?
- How many can we create over the next 90 days?
- What might this bring to our customers and the marketplace?
Remember speed of change isn’t the problem.
Speed of adaptation and advantage thinking is.
List the challenges you have currently that you see in your business then apply the principles above.
Below are examples of challenges we’ve been working with our customers on.
- We don’t have robust enough financial systems to get cash in faster to the business.
- Getting our customers onboard quickly with new thinking and not getting stuck in a place of fear.
- Poor internal and global customer collaboration.
- Loss of customer revenue and profitability.
- Rising costs and a heavily regulated market.
The big question is… what do we do once we’ve identified the problem?
Hyper Adaptation System (HAS)
Other Hyper Adaptation Examples
Here are some companies who saw the current or future changes that would disrupt their business and created superior advantage through new adaptation.
Anyone born before 1985 may still think Apple is just a computer company as one of the pioneers of personal computers and the inventor of the still popular “Mac” brand.
If Apple had just remained a computer company though, it is uncertain if the company would still be in business. It took only about a year to develop the iPod, but its launch radically changed the company.
Building on the success of this portable media player, Apple then effectively created the touchscreen smartphone industry before then moving on to make the tablet computer concept a real product and an actual success.
Once just a computer company, Apple is now a consumer electronics giant.
In the recent pandemic, it was surprising to see on the news an alcoholic drinks company at the forefront leading the charge in hand sanitiser sales.
The $34 billion French drinks group saw the opportunity in their supply chain and chemicals work to help meet the world’s urgent need for the potentially life-saving product that was in scarce supply.
Sourcing brand new ingredients including glycerin and hydrogen peroxide, which it doesn’t usually use, it used its dozens of distilleries located across the globe to produce industrial quantities of the hand gel.
Less than 24 hours later, the maker of Jameson Whiskey and Absolut Vodka had received all the government approvals needed. By the end of the week, the first batch of its hand sanitisers was rolling off the production lines in Fort Smith, Arkansas. None of their competitors considered this adaptation change.
Nokia started off as a pulp-and-paper company in the mid-1800s before expanding into generating power.
Nokia was in a diverse array of industries. After mergers in the 1960’s it was into markets like televisions, computers, plastics and so on. As time went on though, the company increasingly saw better opportunities in telephony, electronics and radio products, and ultimately combined these into mobile communications. At one point it was the world’s largest cell phone maker.
Seeing the great competition in the cell phone market, and frankly a collapsing brand, they realised their potential of mobile communication products.
By divesting and selling those other operations, Nokia became what it is today – a company focused on telecommunications technology and vastly successful.
What advantage are you currently creating for your company and your customers?
How do you and your organisation respond to the speed of change?
Look at your current activity? What are you creating and doing that are yielding results? What isn’t working and why?
Hyper Adaptation is a part of the “Growth Systems” you need in your organisation to be able to support continued growth and success with your customers.
Want to know more? Get in touch with us!