When something changes, we react to the new circumstance or we perish.
The most misquoted person in history is probably Charles Darwin, who said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
However, most people will misquote Darwin as having said “survival of the fittest” when they reference him about the need to adapt, innovate or change.
You don’t have to be the biggest or smartest or the quickest. You need to be the most open to possibility, the most accepting of the truth that nothing lasts forever, and the most comfortable with giving up the familiar for the unknown.
There are no guarantees.
Innovation is messy and imperfect. I feel badly for Susan sometimes because I change direction often. I fall in love and out of love with my ideas. I am changing them all the time. I feel like I am making all kinds of mistakes, but I am not. What I am doing is trying, pushing, measuring, failing, readjusting and refiring.
Innovation involves making mistakes, trying new experiments and accepting screw-ups.
Seth Godin wrote: “The process of innovation isn’t avoiding the things that don’t work, because that means avoiding the things that might work.”
Innovation means that we have to comfortably embrace the idea of failure on our way to the impact that we seek.
When there is a disruption in the market, our first instinct is to circle the wagons and squeeze as much business out of our current model as we can, while we can. In the face of the need to innovate, we insulate. We shut out the new, bury our heads in the sand (or worse), cut our prices, commoditize our services and hang on for dear life.
Three years ago, I believed that my current business model would last another ten years. Two years ago I wasn’t so certain. Technology was disrupting the financial services industry, as it continues to, through low-cost investment options. And then about a year ago, I realized that business as usual would last about another 36 months, tops. About as long as a car lease.
There are bigger consulting firms, but their size may not be a benefit.
We are smaller and more nimble. We can pivot quickly. We are closer to our clients and much more aware of our marketplace. We are much more adaptable.