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PMR Insights

Adapting to win – how to improve your adaptability quotient

“Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.” —Max McKeown

In today’s society adaptability is a key component that drives success in any industry. Speaking from personal experience, as a team member at PMR, I have seen that the openness to change, ideas, and adaptability has infused a compelling and inspiring force in-house. However, on the flip side, over the years, I have also observed (from my industry interactions) that businesses are often reluctant to make changes or adapt to new concepts because “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

Nonetheless, if Covid-19 has taught us anything over this past year, it would be the importance of flexibility and adaptability – the capacity to quickly adjust movements and activities — not only to survive but thrive. More often than not, individuals stray from change, especially when it means leaving a comfort zone. However, being comfortable doesn’t necessarily mean excelling, and most of the time, staying comfortable means staying stagnant.

We as individuals, societies, and companies have become too focused on former achievements, or what we have done “right” in the past, that we fail to acknowledge or recognize what we can do to make it better. We don’t pay attention to how little adaptations in the way we work or live can have a profound and positive impact on our future.

So, with that said, how can companies not only improve their adaptability, but encourage it within their industry? Natalie Fratto, former IBM Watson strategist offers three metrics to measure your own adaptability.

The first measure: the ability to start asking “what if” questions. By doing so, you force your brain to simulate possible versions of the future allowing you to exercise your capacity to come up with resolutions to certain constraints. For instance, “what if my core buyer could no longer visit my shop for long periods of time?”. The framework of your mindset shifts from “this method has worked for me for years” to “what would my contingency plan be if this was no longer a viable or profitable option?”.

The second measure: engage in active unlearning. In this ever-changing world, the importance of an open mind is critical to survival. New technologies emerge daily, and it is imperative to always question what we know with new information. For example, for years recyclers have been taught that you need at least 1000 converters (or 2000 lbs. of material) to deal directly with a processor and get paid on assay; however, with the innovative processing technologies that have emerged in the past decade, recyclers can now access refined returns with lots starting at 100 regular OEM ceramic units. By teaching yourself to return to a beginner’s mindset and forcing yourself to actively search for fresh information, you can strengthen your industry position by opening new doors you previously thought were closed.

Lastly, the third measure: seek out connections that infuse and encourage exploration into your personal and professional life.  Surrounding yourself with individuals that are in a constant state of investigation allows you to see what’s around the next corner. If you keep the company of those who share the exact same thoughts and sentiments as you, you’ll never be able to see things from a different perspective. In addition to that, if you are trying to block your adaptability potential by holding onto past wins or previous successes of a certain business model, you are in danger of falling behind and/or becoming obsolete. A great example of this phenomenon would be the rise and fall of Blackberry smartphones. In the early 2000s, it was rare to see anyone without a prized “Blackberry” – as it was the first widely adopted smartphone within the market. Unfortunately, slow market reaction coupled with misplaced market focus, ultimately lead to its demise –allowing Apple and Android to swoop in, steal market share and eventually, dominate the smartphone market.  Arguably, Blackberry was too focused on exploiting an already successful business model that they failed to see what was on the horizon.

Considering the above metrics, in life it is important to consistently test, measure and improve. This rings true in both our personal lives and professional lives. These metrics set a good precedent for continuing to measure our own adaptability quotients and in the words of Natalie Fratto: “Never fall too in love with your wins, but rather continue to proactively seek out what might destroy you next.” Don’t let the comfort of your current success be the enemy of your adaptability and growth.

Are you stuck in a comfort zone with your converters? Contact us to explore your options.

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