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4 key characteristics of an adaptable business

Written by Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce | 12 Jun 2019

Do you, as a leader, fear change?

Perhaps you've noticed employees are becoming stuck in their ways. Or things have become stagnant.

Does a "this is the way we’ve always done things" attitude permeate the business?

But it's comfortable. It's easy. It's familiar. Why change things if they're not broken?

Unfortunately this way of thinking can put the future of your business in jeopardy. And it can be demonstrable of a resistance to change, risk and adaptability.

So how can we break free of the comfort of familiarity? How do we instil agility and adaptability into our everything thinking? 

Adaptability is your company’s ability to tweak and change approaches depending on the external landscape. That could be anything from the economy, customer behaviour, digital innovation or politics.

Your business’ longevity, sustainability and ultimately, its future, is dependent on your ability to bounce back in times of uncertainty. 

In this post, we’ll look at the characteristics of an adaptable business.


An adaptable business is vigilant of external trends. They anticipate changes and trends and learn how to respond by monitoring and evaluating. They continually review processes and when necessary introduce new processes to respond.

An example of this might be your reaction to the proliferation of remote working and flexible hours. Many businesses are now adopting tools and software to facilitate more non-traditional working patterns, opening up a wider talent pool selection, and improving employee retention and productivity.

Adaptable leadership

Adaptability starts at the top. So having an adaptable leadership team who are open to change is essential.

As humans, we are drawn to the safety of familiarity and risk-averseness. So adaptable leadership needs to be deliberately cultivated and developed. There must be a focus on strategic leadership techniques promoted by the continual development of culture and people management skills.

People respond, engage and develop better under the right leadership. And behaviour breeds behaviour. If your leadership are team positive, adaptable and motivated, the rest will follow. 

Embrace change

As we've already stressed, you must be open to change. Embrace and welcome it. 

Avoidance of change can be a huge barrier to growth and your ability to challenge competitors. Change is the only constant in the business world and it’s far easier to react strategically if you are prepared and ready for when it happens.

Think about how you react to the unexpected. Do you regard change as a threat or an opportunity?

It's worth taking some time to assess how your business would currently react to widespread change. Focus on fostering an internal culture that anticipates change and is prepared and enthusiastic about taking on new challenges.

Prioritise learning and development

Successful and adaptable environments embrace new knowledge, and they focus on elevating and developing employees and enhancing their skill sets.

There is always more to be learned, and by placing a focus on learning and development, employees are better equipped with the skills required to navigate uncertain landscapes.

If you’re unsure what that looks like for your business, speak with employees openly about which skills and qualifications they feel would enable them to perform their roles better.

Adaptability is the key to success. It’s how your business thrives in a rapidly changing landscape. It’s how your business future-proofs itself during times of uncertainty and how it responds to volatile climates, economics and politics. If you do not have the processes in place to deal with change, business could flounder in unpredictable circumstances. Change must be welcomed, embraced and tackled with an open-minded approach. Fostering an adaptable culture and putting processes in place are essential so everyone within the business is on the same page.

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Topics: business

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