Adapt to survive
Only those with the greatest capacity to adapt will survive. Darwin’s famous biological principle ‘survival of the fittest’ examines the passive capacity of living creatures to adapt to their environment. Those who least adapt are the first to be ousted or eaten. This way, individuals that do survive are enabled to reproduce and pass on their genes – and their apparent qualities – to their offspring – with a greater chance for survival as a result. However, minor random mutations in the genes may change this effect. It could be enhanced but also be reduced or even be destroyed.
Organizations are like living organisms
Organizations may be seen as living organisms, which are able to adapt to their environment. The difference with Darwin’s theory however is that organizations are capable of actively managing the process by, for example, applying Business Intelligence. Living creatures, with the exception of higher and more intelligent forms of life, do not have this option*. They first have to reproduce instead and that takes time.
Adaptive behavior: the 3 patterns
Adaptive behavior in organizations or organisms manifests itself in roughly three different ways:
- they adjust themselves;
- they adjust their environment;
- they change environment.
For example, an organization could go into extremes to adjust to all current tax laws, but may also decide to relocate to a country with a more favorable tax climate. Whether it is wise to relocate, depends on the environment in which an organization wants to operate and on what influence the organization can exert on so-called “fixed” variables that affect business operations.
Better “sense” the future
Organizations are thus enabled to look for an environment that fits their needs. However, this requires not only adaptability, but also a high degree of sensitivity. Business Intelligence is an instrument that helps to better “sense” whether a critical threshold has been exceeded or whether the current environment still fits the organization. For this, organizations will need to combine internal and external information such as market developments or competitor information, in their Business Intelligence software.
This allows organizations to choose a different location based on relevant information remain successful as a result. An intelligent organization does not only adapt to its environment (reactive) but also, where possible, adjusts the environment (proactive) or relocates to a different environment.
* Elephants and some other species, in the absence of water, relocate to a different area. Many migratory birds choose to spend winter in warmer climates where foraging is easier. Animals cannot just change this behavior – or instinct – for therefore it should first be anchored in the genes.