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Adapt or die?

Leon C. Megginson, Professor of Management and Marketing at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. paraphrased that: "According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself."

Similarly, a business resistant or slow to grasp change (whether wittingly and/or purely systemically) is at grave risk of extinction (or at the very least of not maximising its potential opportunities).

In a world where change is ever more present and immediate, it is increasingly crucial that hitherto successful organisations continue to challenge and question the beliefs, culture and processes on which they have relied for their successes thus far.

Notwithstanding the current and looming times of crisis and recession (where budgets are invariably stretched too thinly to cover the already existing operational needs of a business, and the intuitive reaction to which may be to focus all efforts on consolidation and 'keeping afloat'), a company that neglects innovation and opportunity risks more than its immediate existence.  

The causes of competency traps are perhaps best understood by considering the two, sometimes opposing, forces that drive a company forward: the ‘exploitation’ of their existing products, and ‘exploration’ of future opportunities... A competency trap occurs when the exploitation arm comes to dominate the company’s workings so that it is no longer structurally ambidextrous... Successful organisations often end up with rigid corporate cultures, for example. “In order to be successful, a company has to develop efficient systems and processes,” says Heracleous. “And over time, it leads to particular paradigms of what the organisation’s identity and core business is and should be.” ...These assumptions about the ways the company operate can become so deeply embedded, the employees are no longer conscious of the tacit rules, he says. And those rigid attitudes can blind them to the potential of any future innovations.

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