We live in a constantly accelerating state of rapid change. It is essentially a continuum of innovation and relentless disruption. Within one generation, the average lifespan of a company has decreased from over 60 years to under 20, while the average product lifecycle length has reduced by 75%.
Retailers have lived through the effect of Amazon’s rise. Traditional advertising and TV/media has been decimated by the rise of Google, Facebook, and others. Tesla introduced a completely new direction for the auto industry. Every firm is dealing with new digital technologies and transformations including data, AI, cloud services, blockchain, and more. And before even accounting for the effects of the pandemic, global workforces and geopolitical pressures have disrupted supply chains. Everyone is affected and all the time.
This environment causes us all to continually feel pressure to adapt and create as professionals and in the firms where we work, which is essentially to innovate. Every company is losing its competitive edge faster while the time to make new products is constantly shortened. It is effectively an on-going existential crisis.
To Survive and Thrive – Firms Need the Capacity to Adapt
Let’s examine who has survived and thrived. In case after case, some firms have the forward-leaning culture and skills which has allowed them to experiment and push the boundaries. Why was Tesla, a firm with no past history in auto, able to develop advanced features like self-driving before everyone else? The same is true for Apple, Netflix, and so many more progressive firms who leapfrogged past their competitors. Most firms have technical expertise, but not every firm has the forward-leaning culture to “say yes” to the experiment coupled with the technical horsepower needed to execute.
As we know from Darwin, “It is not the strongest that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.”