How much Growth is strategically planned and how much is just brilliantly reactive?

by IdeaTransfer on May 22, 2011

According to Darwin, species do not survive because they are stronger or more intelligent.  They survive because the respond more effectively to change.

Think back over the major change events in history of your firm. Name the episodes where you adapted most successfully, and deconstruct how and why you succeeded.  Was there a consistent process that helped you think through the challenges, plan your tactics, and act skillfully?

Or maybe these episodes succeeded based on raw instinct and on-the-spot ingenuity.  But there is a way to organize those strengths into a consistent and strategic response to change.  One that is not just about how to survive, but how to thrive.

Conveniently it follows the acronym ADAPT.


In martial arts there is a skill called soft eyes.  Soft eyes take in objects and surroundings simultaneously.  If you are too focused on details you may be late to defend an attack from another direction and vice versa.  Quick response to change—both threats and opportunities—demands a broad recognition of the change context and the deeper implications of specific events.


Decisions have to follow just as rapidly—unambiguous but not irrevocable.  Decisions send two messages—why and how.  Why is a constant because it reflects your mission, philosophy, and values.  How must be flexible, because change is unpredictable.


Too often action comes first—a rash commitment followed by justifications and rationalizations.  Awareness and Decision allow you to act on multiple if-then scenarios simultaneously and sequentially.  Change seldom comes fully developed, and action has to respond to changes within change.


Does it mean sheer grit and immovability or calm, steady confidence?  It doesn’t hurt to have both and apply them wisely.  As Davy Crockett advised, “Be sure you are right, and then go ahead.”  Right is solid.  Going ahead is fluid.


Don’t start over every time change hits your company.  Make this process a standard so it becomes part of the culture and everyone takes ownership of anticipating and responding to change.

So here is the answer to the question in the title.  If you follow ADAPT, then there is no difference between planned growth and reactive growth.  They are both integral to all growth planning and strategy.

Share with us the lessons you’ve learned from responding to the brutal changes of the past few years.

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