Adaptable Organizations: Characteristics & Importance

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  • 0:04 Organizational Adaptability
  • 1:48 Adaptability Example: Amazon
  • 2:48 Creating a Culture of…
  • 4:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Adaptable organizations not only adapt to change, but embrace it. In this lesson, you'll learn more about adaptable organizations, the characteristics present, and why it's so important to adapt to change.

Organizational Adaptability

In today's fast-paced culture, businesses can be here one day and gone the next, with very little wiggle room between the two. Organizational adaptability means how quickly organizations adjust their business processes and improvise themselves to achieve their goals. In short, adaptability is essential for competitive advantage.

To stay competitive means that organizational leadership needs to be ready and willing to embrace change in the form of new products and services, pricing, location, or concept. It also means that these companies operate in such a way that they anticipate the need to change before it's too late.

Highly adaptable organizations share some common traits:

  • They have well-defined expectations, goals, and corporate culture. Adaptable companies are forward-thinking and not only recognize the importance of change but anticipate it and actively seek it out. Adaptability is woven throughout everything they do. It is a part of how they do business, and every employee from the house-keeping to the CEO understands what they're about.

  • They value their employees. They understand that their employees are the lifeblood of successful adaptation, allowing the business to work and innovate in a way that allows them to seize opportunities as they become available.

  • They are creative. Organizations that excel at adaptability encourage creativity from their employees and model it as a business practice. Creativity is a natural derivative of adaptability because it requires employees to be open-minded and willing to embrace new ideas with flexibility.

  • They have problem-solving mindsets. Many changes are led by organizations that could anticipate the solution to a problem before it presented itself.

Adaptability Example: Amazon

There might not be a more effective example of organizational adaptability than the Internet's leading e-tailer, Amazon. What began as a resource for book lovers has adapted into a one-stop shop for everything from the latest bestseller to women's fashion to appliances to even groceries.

When consumers started turning to digital sources for their music, movies, and books, Amazon adapted with solutions of its own including Amazon Prime and Kindle. Once they grew to dominate the online space, they started experimenting with brick-and-mortar bookstore locations. And, just recently, Amazon announced two new ventures: an in-home delivery service known as Amazon Key and a highly-publicized purchase of the grocery store chain Whole Foods.

Why all the changes? Because Amazon understands that to remain competitive, to keep up with the changing times and to combat new competitors, it must be adaptable and willing to change, grow, and evolve.

Creating a Culture of Adaptability

If being a more adaptable business sounds like something you'd like to see more of in your organization, here are some ways you can help create that type of environment:

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