The Darwinian approach to business survival

Evolution of man

“It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”

This insight, attributed to Charles Darwin, could easily be the most important business management mantra for the decade. With challenging economic times, increasing global competitiveness and the dominance of international markets by multinational corporations, now, more than ever, innovation and evolution are the best ways for small businesses to survive.

Here are five simple steps to evolution to help your business survive and thrive, both now and in the future.

Self-evaluation

Any improvement journey starts with developing an understanding of current behaviour and current performance. To create elite performance, teams need to understand the existing patterns of behaviour in the company. Why do other groups respond they way they do? How is your own group’s behaviour perceived? How will people respond to change?

Create your vision

Where do you want your business to be? A destination is achieved by taking a thousand steps in the right direction. Having a clear direction and communicating it to all your employees can help ensure that every action, everyone is taking, every day is working towards the same goal. All your management actions form part of this communication. People do what is measured. Make sure what you are measuring reflects the steps to your destination.

Teach the necessary skills

Business innovation brings some new challenges for existing teams and their players. Make sure you support your teams, and help them achieve their potential by giving them training them in innovation management practices. For your business to thrive in the future, all the different elements need to be engaged, motivated and aligned towards the goal.

Create an agile delivery plan

No matter how conservative or adventurous your innovation, you can move ahead with confidence without a plan made up of practical, pragmatic, achievable and measurable steps.

Flexibility is important – even vital. Agile practices are all about being open to learning at every step – re-evaluating the goals and the steps based on lessons learned. Don’t confuse agile with the idea of having no plan. Each lesson learned has to be reflected against where you are going, and a judgement of whether this step is an effective way to get there. Some of the most valuable lessons are an early realisation that you have slipped onto the wrong path, and need to step and start again.

Decisive leadership

Being adaptive is, by definition, all about developing skills and capabilities to achieve effective ongoing change. Relevant and consistent management practices and strong leadership are vital to guiding staff through the journey.

Strong leadership is an exactly the medicine that is required to develop confident, autonomous and aligned contribution from all of the people working on your team.

By using these five principles you can help to transform your business into an adaptable, innovative, efficient powerhouse. By setting up your processes to favour growth, you can give your business the best chance of evolving, surviving and thriving far into the future.