Insights & Ideas

Agile or adaptive? Your business needs both

Guy running past group of people sitting and dropping his papers

Back in October, I wrote an article about how finance careers will change over the next decade. Little did I know that coronavirus would come along and accelerate—and evolve—all of those trends. One theme in my article was agility. While agility is still important—in your career and your organization—COVID-19 is shining a light on agility’s big sister: adaptiveness.

Agile vs. Adaptive

Although agility and agile methodologies have received more press over the past few years, adaptiveness might be even more important for organizations, especially now. Research from 2019 showed that organizations that focus on adaptiveness grow 3x faster than their competitors. Karen Walker explains the difference between the two this way:

  • Agility is about the level of operational flexibility an organization has to change—it’s the ability to respond quickly to shifts in demand or customer preference within the boundaries of an existing business model.
  • Adaptiveness is about the overall ability of an organization to survive significant unforeseen and foreseen changes to the environment in which they operate.

Adaptiveness isn’t new

Of course, companies have always adapted, but since Gary Hamel popularized the concept of “adaptiveness” in 2012 adaptive companies have flourished. Even before coronavirus, a PwC report on human capital trends mentioned “building an adaptive workforce” as a key priority for financial services organizations in 2020.

Some obvious examples of adaptive businesses include:

  • Amazon, which grew from an online bookseller to the world’s biggest retailer, and now includes diverse offerings from Ring Doorbells to healthcare startups.
  • Shell originally imported exotic seashells from the Far East to London in the 1880s before expanding into other imports and commissioning the first tanker for oil imports.
  • IBM sold off its signature personal computer business in 2005 in favor of innovations in microprocessors, cloud computing, and software as a service.

Adaptive organizations are all around us

Here, in Chicago, we’re seeing adaptiveness in action every day as businesses adjust their business models in response to the coronavirus crisis. But adaptiveness is not just evolving your business out of necessity, it’s evolving it intentionally and proactively. To survive in the post-COVID era, organizations of all kinds will need to be both adaptive and agile to survive and thrive.

At Salo, our consultants often bring the outside insights, diverse experiences, and cross-functional talent needed to jumpstart adaptiveness. Message me on LinkedIn to learn more about how Salo’s finance, accounting, and HR consultants can help your organization grow and flourish no matter what the future holds.

hr manager talent solutions
hr manager talent solutions

Allie Davis

Talent Connections Manager