Two years ago we had never heard of Covid-19, pandemic shutdowns, unprecedented forest fires, heat domes, atmospheric rivers, or impassible roads between Vancouver, BC and the rest of Canada. To say we are seeing a lot of change is an understatement. As a result, businesses are experiencing unprecedented supply chain disruptions, changes in technology, changes in business operations, changes in market conditions, and so much more.
I’ve been learning a lot about the Adaptability Quotient, or “Ability to Adapt”. You’ve heard of IQ, also known as Intelligence Quotient. Then along came EQ, or the Emotional Intelligence Quotient. Now, with all the change and turmoil in the world, there has emerged a third quotient called the Adaptability Quotient. The Ability to Adapt became the dreaded buzzword in 2020 when Covid-19 forced the entire world to shut down. Businesses had to turn to remote solutions on a dime. Some businesses had to close and reinvent themselves. Some had to send all workers home with a laptop. Some had to stay open and offer new services such as take-out, home delivery, curb-side delivery, and the list goes on. Some even changed the products they produced, such as turning from processing beer to processing hand sanitizer, or from producing cars to producing personal protective equipment. And sadly, some businesses had to close forever. Bottom line, every business had to make changes of some kind. And they did. The businesses that were most prepared and most willing to make changes came out ahead of the rest. Their “Ability to Adapt” was high, meaning, their Adaptability Quotient was high.
Adaptability Quotient (AQ) is defined as “the ability to adjust course, product, service, and strategy in response to unanticipated changes in the market.”
Why does this matter, you ask? Well, it matters a ton to any business owner who is operating a business right now. In the past, business owners could get away with being complacent, doing what they have always done, or assuming that their incredible internal operations and customer service would overcome anything else. This is no longer the case. Covid 19 has put a gas pedal to change. Changes in technology are also putting more fuel on change. To top it off, experts are predicting more changes in the world over the next 10 years than in the last 100 years combined, according to Peter Diamandis, Entrepreneur and Futurologist. This is a staggering prediction when you think that the past 100 years have taken us from horse and buggy to computerized cars, as an example. Diamandis also predicts that over the next 10 years, “we’ll reinvent every industry”.
So how do business owners stay ahead? Having a great AQ or Adaptability Quotient is not only key but imperative. Past companies that are the poster-children of being unable to adapt well to changes in their industry are Blockbuster, Kodak, Toys R Us, and Blackberry. And Diamandis is predicting every industry to be reinvented over the next 10 years.
By nature, human beings are resistant to change. Yet to stay complacent is detrimental to your business. As Forbes contributor Sam Page puts it: “Businesses must embrace change to remain relevant.” Having a company that has a high AQ is a product of having individual team members with a high AQ. How do you foster AQ? Step 1 is recognizing that you need to adapt and that your organization has to be open to adapting to new consumer demands, new markets, new innovations, new products, new competitors, and new technology. Recognizing and then adapting to these as they come along is imperative to your organization’s existence.
So what is the one single most effective way to help your team adapt? According to the AQai center (that you can take an adaptability assessment at), the first step is to adopt a culture of learning. If you haven’t already recognized, there is a huge skills shortage around the world. This shortage was exacerbated by the “Great Resignation” that the pandemic caused. So the AQai experts recommend giving your team new skills rather than forever searching for someone with skills. They recommend ongoing new learnings in bite-size pieces throughout the year. Have them take short courses and have them report back to everyone in the organization and let them know what they learned and how they will apply the new learning.
The companies that embrace change, become better at adapting, and finally, adopt a culture of internal education as part of their future adaptability will keep their teams learning new skills, and help them grow new leaders within their company instead of having to search for new people who often just aren’t easy to find. Ultimately, having a company ready to learn, adapt, and make changes as they go will keep ahead of the companies who are always searching for the right new person or who keep doing what they’ve always done. These slow-moving companies will ultimately be left behind.