46 Adaptation

Grant Brown

I have always been a pretty outgoing person and have embraced being a very strange individual. First, I will go ahead and thank my parents for my weird tendencies and personality, because they encouraged me to act in this way. It is safe to say that my parents do not fit the definition of “cool,” as they signed me up for the circus, supported me wearing tacky clothes, and allowed me to act in ways that were not socially acceptable. Despite occasionally getting bullied for these things, my parents encouraged me to basically do what I wanted and be myself. Because of this, I am very thankful for them really allowing me to be a kid and express myself. On the other hand, I am very thankful for my middle school friends that made it apparent to me that I was weird and that I should act differently. Now I’m not going to say that I am a proponent for bullying, but I am very happy that people made fun of me and made me realize how strange I was. Because of this, my friends kind of took me under their wing and began to enhance my personality and essentially made me cooler. I started to dress differently, be more calm and mature, and essentially make me a more popular person.

Keywords: Transformation, Adoption, Innovation, Change, Evolvement


For animals and insects, the ability to adapt to their environment is essential for their survival. In an unfamiliar or dangerous setting, animals will adapt their physical presence to blend in with their environment. This modification will help species, such as walking sticks or zebras, defend themselves from predators and greatly enhance their chances of survival. Although not as extreme, humans also have to utilize these camouflaging techniques and mechanisms to blend into our environments. An individual’s ability to adapt to certain situations in constantly changing environments is imperative to their success and overall well-being. It is crucial for us to be well informed of our surroundings, as we are constantly tasked to leave our comfort zones and are required to adapt if we want to fully assimilate and thrive in these spaces. Adaptation is especially important to me, because without it I wouldn’t have been able to associate with so many different groups of people and feel comfortable wherever I am. Being able to “adjust oneself readily to different conditions” will make someone a more likable and successful person (Merriam-Webster). This term immediately came to mind, when I asked myself, “What has been my biggest challenge, and how did I overcome it?” I immediately reflected on my sudden move to Tokyo, Japan. As a teenager who had never lived outside of Georgia, I quickly had to familiarize myself with Japanese culture and customs. I essentially had to transform myself and adopt different cultural tendencies, so that I did not ostracize myself. I was in fact very successful at this, made lifelong friendships and fully integrated myself into an environment that I truly did not belong in. Because of this, the ability to adapt is very important to me and I believe that I am a credible candidate to speak on how valuable this concept is. My ability to listen attentively, retain information and make intuitive decisions makes adaptability my greatest and most effective trait. Adaptation is the result of honing in on multiple valuable human traits, and those who are most equipped to adapt to their surroundings and being accepted within every social or organizational structure.

 

Being adaptable entails listening to others, having to think about our current situation, and then responding carefully to an unfamiliar environment. Being adaptable in contexts such as thinking about politics, making decisions, and living, people would embrace other ideas and cultures possibly leading to a cohesive society. By becoming adaptable, communities and organizations become self-aware and develop an environment that is inclusive and prosperous. Adaptation is an essential component of success and is crucial when measuring an individual’s or companies’ ability to handle certain situations. In the workforce or any fast-paced environment, individuals need to be able to handle high levels of stress and respond properly. Because of this, employers or colleagues admire the ability to overcome obstacles and properly evaluate different scenarios. People that are only focused on completing an assignment or reaching their objectives, may struggle with properly adapting. This is often a problem with teams, as they have difficulty committing to a plan and quickly find themselves rerouting their destination (Heskett). I would explain this scenario as over-adapting and failing to fluidly adapt. An example is football. If a team’s offense is trying to score but is having no success with running the ball, then they might turn to passing. In this scenario, the team might fully disregard their original game plan of running the ball and only look to pass, consequently producing poorer results. Instead, the team should look to adapt their offensive strategy by introducing some passing, some play action plays and still heavily rely on the original run. By slightly adapting, they create a much more balanced offense, still highlighting their strengths and yielding great results. Commitment is not bad, but businesses should have the mindset to “preserve the core but stimulate progress” (Heskett).

 

This is a challenge for leadership, to admit that adopting a new method is necessary, or sticking to their guns and not budging. The need for corporations to adapt and adjust their business strategies has become much more apparent due to the organizational shift to digital transformation. Data suggests that $1.3 trillion was spent on digital transformation initiatives in 2019 and remains the number one concern for business executives moving forward (Tabrizi). Essentially digital transformation is the process of organizations fully adopting and embracing technology to increase their performance and reach new boundaries. Organizations and executives that fail to see the value in adapting their processes and strategies may be severely affected and fall behind. When considering this shift, organizations need to be prepared to disrupt themselves and readily respond to changes. Companies need to become organized and knowledgeable about implementing technology, having structured objectives set in place, and communicating effectively across teams to ensure the success in this transition.

 

One industry that is at risk of not adhering to digital transformation is the banking industry. The current financial services market is dominated by these longstanding institutions who possess a majority share of consumer accounts. Nipping at their heels, Fintech is challenging these large institutions and stealing market share. These young and hungry fintech startups are becoming more developed, receiving funding and possess far greater technology than the current financial institutions. Banks possess the capital to invest in digital transformation and the capability to harness users’ data to optimize their systems. However, their hardware is outdated, and their current company culture does not promote this progressive and innovative ideology (Broeders). This shift would be insanely expensive for these institutions and very complex, thus fintech companies enter the conversation.

 

By competing with traditional banks, fintech companies have been able to deliver a better customer experience, at much faster speeds and at a fraction of the cost. The global fintech market is predicted to grow to $309.98 billion with an annual growth rate of 24.8% through 2022. Fintech companies essentially split up all of the functions of traditional banking services, such as investing, savings or loans. Fintech offers a focused and intuitive approach to these services, ensuring that the customer has a positive and secure experience (Ketabchi). Fintech is very promising and has the potential to surpass banks if they do not quickly adopt more advanced digital practices. The financial sector has withstood from adapting their practices and refused to integrate technology fully, however the rise in fintech has made it clear that this shift towards digital transformation is inevitable.

 

So, how does one better equip themselves for these situations? Clearly being able to adapt to any scenario is beneficial, but it is difficult to overcome a challenge that they are not readily prepared for. According to Amanda Lutz, a scholar who studied adaptability in the workplace, noted that being “flexible” and “innovative” is key to success when facing change. When breaking down what it takes to be adaptable, being flexible is the foundation of this concept. Not only will this make people better prepared for whatever is thrown at us, being flexible makes us a much more enjoyable person to work with and will significantly enhance our productivity and grow tolerance to stress. Being faced with unexpected change can cause a lot of pressure, however if we are flexible we can calmly react and digest the situation to properly address the problem. Lastly, the author notes how being innovative will benefit both our stress levels and flexibility. When faced with any barrier or hiccup, there needs to be some sort of deviation from our original path. Therefore, the people who are innovative and can think on their feet and find new solutions to the task at hand will be successful (Lutz).

 

Adaptation is very valuable on a personal level, as it has the ability to strengthen communities and invite communication. Those who are adaptable are leaders in their fields and are respected by their peers. Corporations are constantly tasked with the challenge of innovating their ideas and products to avoid getting swallowed up by their competitors. Adaptability is a necessary trait for progression, therefore those who hone the skills of adapting to their situation will advance further in society and will make a larger impact on the world.


Works Cited

 

Boulton, Clint. “What Is Digital Transformation? A Necessary Disruption.” CIO, CIO, 17 Sept. 2020, www.cio.com/article/3211428/what-is-digital-transformation-a-necessary-disruption.html.

Dusenberry, Lisa, et al. “Filter. Remix. Make.: Cultivating Adaptability Through

Multimodality. “Journal of Technical Writing & Communication, vol. 45, no. 3, July 2015, pp. 299–322. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/0047281615578851.

Heskett, Jim “So We Adapt. What’s the Downside?” HBS Working Knowledge, 7 July 20Jesus11, hbswk.hbs.edu/item/so-we-adapt-whats-the-downside.

Ketabchi, Natasha. “State of the Fintech Industry.” Toptal Finance Blog, Toptal, 24 Dec. 2019, www.toptal.com/finance/market-research-analysts/fintech-landscape.

Lutz, Amanda. “Be Prepared for Changes… Lots of Them!” Quill, vol. 93, no. 8, Oct. 2005, p. 42. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=18736682&site=ehost-live.

Tabrizi, Behnam, et al. “Digital Transformation Is Not About Technology.” Harvard Business Review, 7 Oct. 2019, hbr.org/2019/03/digital-transformation-is-not-about-technology.

Tan, Shirley. “The Benefits of Being Adaptable.” Business.com, 20 Jan. 2016, www.business.com/articles/how-well-do-you-handle-change-the-benefits-of-being-adaptable/.

 

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Rhetoric in Everyday Life by Grant Brown is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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