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The NEW? competence for organizational survival

February 5, 2011
GIF-animation for the Coriolis effect article ...

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It’s true, all of life mirrors all of life… Everything in the universe is bound by the laws of the universe..entropy, friction, the law of conservation of momentum..All great societies rise up, consolidate, stagnate and perish or become irrelevant..Every innovation will be out-innovated over a period of time..And so on..

The world has always been in a state of change…But in the last 2 decades, change has changed… The rate of change, and the impact of change have altered radically. And this in turn has affected business and organizations…radically.

The rules of success and survival have changed.. From the ’20s through to the 80’s, the core competence of a survivor was the ability to Foretell. Envision. To Predict what was going to happen next and get onto it faster than others. And in the last 2 decades a word called PROACTive was born to describe just this competence.

seer over tusle over seer

Image by caffeina via Flickr

Not any more.

More than ever before, the environment businesses operate in has become dynamic. In the EXTREME.

Things can change in a minute, turn on a dime, organizations can cease to exist over a weekend.

I believe, more than ever before, the core competence today is all about how well an organization is able to REACT to the rapidly changing econospace.

Surviving in business today, is a lot like being able to navigate across shifting sands. We no longer have the ability to predict across a broad horizon. If you can see your way to the next 2 quarters, you’re in luck.  In such a situation, your ability to navigate, hence survive, depends on how quickly you are able to sense the moment you put your foot down, and quickly recompensate i.e. REACT. There’s a reason they call it quicksand!

Soldier in quicksand

Image by Cecilia Espinoza via Flickr

This is a primal skill. This ability to REACT. It is hardwired in our psycho-somatics. However, over prolonged periods of comfort, it tends to atrophy or become desensitised. Hence, organizations that have been around longer, enjoyed good times longer, are slower to react than their entrepreneurial cousins, who are recent startups, and are leaner and more agile.

The next decade is going to belong to organizations that are able to REACT, demonstrate AGILITY, do so RAPIDLY…and the key differentiator will be the ones who take the RIGHT RAPID DECISIONS. Tortoise step over, it’s time for the Rabbit.

Leadership teams will have to focus on how to build the appropriate cultures, structures, capabilities and MIS that enable them to take the RIGHT-RAPID response to the shifting sands.

And here’s another law of the universe…everything in the universe moves from simplicity to greater complexity. Are you ready?

Coriolis effect12

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Neha Roy permalink
    April 22, 2011 4:53 pm

    Hi, I came across your blog post by chance and I find it quite interesting. I think you’ll be very much interested to know that SHRM’s Annual conference this year is inviting HR professionals from world over. The conference is held in Las Vegas in June. Seeing your interest into HR I think you can make it to the Vegas conference. They have made provisions for us on facebook. I answered 4 questions here and I may win a free trip to the Vegas conference . You can try it as well.

  2. April 16, 2011 3:33 pm

    Why respond to change, why not be the change . I think change is overrated word . Change happens just as we breathe , recognizing and acknowledging that makes us agile . It will then be natural phenomenon just like the seasons .
    Grace is needed as a competence and capacity to absorb and be .

  3. Rishi Raj Gupta permalink
    March 6, 2011 1:24 pm

    In my view, your note sums up the challenge as to how speedily/accurately leaders(!) reactions can determine the future of any organization. Speed of decision-making, keeping in view the imperative of change, and strong focus on execution would continue to be the key.

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      March 16, 2011 6:01 pm

      Absolutely. Very well and concisely put!

  4. Neetubala permalink
    February 8, 2011 9:55 am

    Thanks Gurprriet , that indeed gives an insight into the current organizational gaps that may lead to challenges for the continued existence based on Darwin’s theory which I really value.
    My viewpoint here is that leadership team needs to first and foremost take care of the most important element of organizational culture which is its “people’s responses and conduct to be able to react in the right time with the right reaction ” as that is what will refine the culture bringing in cultural maturity. Mismanagement of emotions leading to inability to REACT correctly can contract too many psychosomatic disorders that survival alone will be the challenge prevailing on our minds with a huge ignorance to the million dollar question “how do we REACT to survive for a healthy survival”. Thanks!

  5. February 8, 2011 6:34 am

    Responding to change is absolutely critical, the world evolves – nothing rests, so if we just sit there without making changes, without doing things different, by that I mean better- we actually go backwards, we can’t stay still.

    Lorena Heletea

  6. February 6, 2011 8:04 pm

    Its not the strongest or the fastest that will survive, but the one that has the fastest response to change ! Darwin said something to that effect !

    Organisations are no different ! The fastest reaction to change and perhaps seeing a ‘possible’ change are the key in the modern times !

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      February 7, 2011 11:33 am

      Darwin was absolutely right! The one’s that are the most rapidly adaptable to change will survive!

  7. shamik vora permalink
    February 5, 2011 11:29 pm

    My reaction will be to ‘stay course’, change communication not principles for a long term survival.

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      February 7, 2011 11:32 am


      Thank you for this huge value-add. In one sentence you’ve said so much. The other challenge businesses are facing in this day and age is one of ethics. With a lot of CEOs/Leaders taking a call to go below the line, in order to show a healthy balance sheet. Stay the course and stick to fundamental principles is the best advice indeed!

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