by Angela Delaney
Welcome to the business jungle - improvise, adapt and overcome
“Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome” is an unofficial mantra of the U.S. Marine Corps. Leaders often use the phrase to emphasise the importance of reacting efficiently and effectively to rapidly changing or unexpected situations. It is a situation that may sound familiar to those starting a new business or working for themselves for the very first time.
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can implement and demonstrate these three key skills in order to achieve business success.
Be on the front foot
Improvising and adapting in order to overcome means more than just reacting to situations that arise. Being on the front foot means taking the initiative to identify challenges coming up on the horizon and then converting the situation into an opportunity before it has the chance to become a problem.
In this way, companies can respond faster than their competitors and so are more likely to deliver results their customers want and need.
To make sure you’re on the front foot, keep an eye on your industry as a whole, and any other crossover industries that could have an impact on yours. Remain open and maintain a regular dialogue with your peers, competitors, suppliers and customers to keep your finger on the pulse so you don’t get caught out further down the line.
Empower your employees
By empowering your employees, your company is more likely to be able to respond quickly and adapt faster to unexpected surprises. Directors and senior managers should create a working culture that encourages staff members to feel free to flag potential issues and introduce solutions, along with the power to make the necessary changes expediently without being tied down by managerial red tape.
Bring in fresh blood
Fresh blood in the way of new staff brings with it fresh ideas, and a wider knowledge of the industry. In this way you can avoid getting stuck in a cycle of repeating, and thus reinforcing, the same ideas internally. New talent with different experience, skills and knowledge can push a company forward and help it grow.
Bringing in outsiders - consultants or new employees - who have fresh eyes can also help by allowing them to objectively assess the company structure, culture or procedural practices. In this way, fresh blood can identify any roadblocks that could be preventing the business from growing, developing or reacting according to the needs of the company or industry.
Train up your troops
If hiring in new staff or freelance consultants isn’t a possibility, consider offering training to your existing employees to enable them expand their skill set and thus improve the standard your company is able to offer customers.
The additional benefit of a taskforce that is routinely exposed to new ideas through external training is that they can bring those innovations back into the business. In this way, your company will remain at the forefront of new trends, and also be able to respond productively to changes and developments in the industry.
Go beyond the comfort zone
It can be easy to get set in your ways - if things are going well then why change them? Change is risky, yet if the signs within the industry are pointing in a different direction to the one your company is following, then you must adapt in order to survive. Long term success cannot be guaranteed by focusing purely on the present and what is currently working. Keep checking in and evaluating what is working and what is not working within the business.
If something is successful, drill down into the available data to assess exactly what led to its success. Ascertain whether those conditions could be reliably and consistently replicated in the future. If not, it is time to go beyond your comfort zone and make a change.
Learn to pivot
The key to improvising and adapting in order to overcome challenges is recognising when you need to pivot. This could mean:
- changing the way you think about certain tasks
- being open to and accepting opposing opinions or suggestions
- recognising that the target market you’re aiming your product at isn’t responding in the way you hoped for
- identifying when to let a failing product or service go and start anew
No one works in isolation - should a problematic situation arise, gather your team and brainstorm your next move together. The aim is not to quit, but to take pause, reassess, and move forward in a different and more fruitful direction.
Starting a business from scratch or working for yourself means there will be trial and error as you launch your company into the world, and learning from mistakes is an essential component in the journey towards success.