"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." Charles Darwin
Strategy is about shaping the future. Adaptability breaks down the concept of "shaping the future" in a set of strategic rules based on solid evidence.
'All failure is a failure to adapt', says McKeown in his introduction to this book.
Max McKeown is the author of several books on innovation and competitive advantage.
McKeown offers three fundamental steps for survival that form the structure of this book:
1. Recognise the need for adaptation;
2. Understand what adaption is required;
3. Do what is necessary to adapt.
Mckeown's primary objective in this book is to help his reader to understand when, how, and why to adapt "faster and smarter than the [given] situation changes."
Case studies range from an investigation of ants, who "create complex societies with simple rules," to quantum game theory, which reveals "the danger of clinging onto stability at all costs."
"Actions are relative to circumstance," and sometimes success depends on "Embracing unacceptable wisdom," as opposed to going with the status quo.
Focusing on discerning adaptation, the author also highlights what not to do, as when Tropicana rebranded in 2009 and panicked after sales plummeted 20%. Within two months, they had reverted to their original packaging. McKeown maintains that the most successfully adaptive companies (and individuals) are those that, in some ways, never grow up—opting instead to feed off new creative energies and ideas.
“In the living world, if a species doesn't adapt to its environment, it dies and its precise genetic make-up leaves the gene pool.
Organisms that evolve through chance mutation or through the evolutionary selection of existing advantageous adaptations manage to survive to reproduce another day.
But, as McKeown points out, human beings have managed to add another layer of adaptation to the brute business of genetic inheritance.
McKeown characterises these mechanisms as culture, science and technology: we learn and pass on tricks that help to us adapt to changing circumstances, regardless of our genetic make-up.”
McKeown argues that adaptability is one of the key blind spots of modern business: when organisations are successful, they tend to fight tooth and nail to maintain the circumstances that have made them successful. But circumstances change.
"It's fairly common for people to know what's necessary and still not do what it takes."
"You can think your way to a better future";
"The most successful adaptors are curious" and "Stability is a dangerous illusion".
The line drawn between private and professional is frequently blurred, since human conduct is at the controlling hub of business
“Evolution, it has been argued, does not care what we think,” says McKeown. “It cares about what we do. Evolution selects based on actions.”
Backed by solid research and references, McKeown provides a common-sense guide to adapting beyond the point of mere survival. He believes that when people can’t grow, societies can’t grow.
McKeown wants us to be faster and smarter than the situation facing us, which, according to him, is the difference between coping and winning.
For business people, small and large and anyone who wants to understand and think about human behaviour