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Utah Business

As we enter a new era of strategic uncertainty, flexibility in business is critical to success.

Derek Miller, president of the Salt Lake Chamber has thoughts about being flexible in business and how your company can be more adaptive.

A guidebook for building adaptability into your organization

Derek Miller, president of the Salt Lake Chamber has thoughts about being flexible in business and how your company can be more adaptive.

For any organization, the ability to adapt to challenges is paramount. When Covid hit in 2020, few organizations had considered such an event or developed a response playbook for operating under a pandemic. This is where being more flexible in business is key. Thankfully, Utah leaders adapted quickly and came together to help uphold the state’s public and economic health. 

For many, pandemic challenges are receding into the past. But lessons from this time remain relevant today—one being adaptability. Ultimately, this means adjusting to new realities. From the pandemic, many companies learned firsthand how flexibility and adaptation in business are critical to success.

Here are a few ways to build adaptability in your organization:

Culture. A key component of adaptability starts with an organization’s culture, and it has to start at the top. Without a leader who acts as a change agent, developing a culture that genuinely embraces change is difficult. Those who do will foster an environment for increased organizational trust and empower employees to make decisions independently. When employees recognize that leadership supports them, new ideas, and outside-the-box thinking, it gives space for diversity of thought and organizational transformation.

Innovation. As organizations face rapidly-changing global structures, realignment of supply chains, and cost pressures from inflation, the ability to innovate is critical to adaptability, economic growth, and industry development. When innovating one area or product, the goal is that it can spread to the rest of the organization and provide benefits, expand opportunities, and strengthen the overall position of the firm.

Variation. The importance of variation in an organization cannot be understated. As championing variation comes at the expense of increasing complexity, an organization must pursue this while keeping structure in mind. Focus on the customer and develop or adjust product offerings to better meet their needs. This organic growth can extend across borders and require further specialized adaptation to meet new and ever-changing markets.  

Position. As markets change, organizations may need to reposition brands or products to adapt to new demands. This can occur in many ways, such as refining an organization’s strategic goals, shifting focus to lower margins and higher volumes, or rethinking product lines. To reposition, an organization often puts a greater emphasis on the customer—the people who are helping to finance a company’s ability to shift strategies. Placing customers at the center of strategy means an organization should be able to better adapt and shift to meet their needs in the future.

Over time, incorporating adaptability into an organization will bring continued success and become a strength. By having this mindset, an organization’s culture will allow space for innovation, provide a variety of products, and keep customers at the forefront. As we all enter a new era of strategic uncertainty brought on by factors outside our control, championing adaptability within your organization will become more of a necessity. The legendary Jack Welch, chairman and CEO of General Electric, once said, “Change before you have to.” In other words, adapt now or pay later. 

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