Adapting to Change

Haris Ahmed of Chicago on the Leader’s Adaptability Skills

For Haris Ahmed, owner of Chicago management consulting company Pragmatium Consulting, Inc., there’s nothing more important than a leader that knows when to adapt to change and when to implement their newly developed change programs for the benefit of the organization and the business. The leader’s openness to change shouldn’t be solely restricted to changes in the industry, but also to changes within the organization. In a word, the leader’s adaptability enables the organization to move forward, internally and externally.

These skills—or the lack of it—have had serious impacts on organizations from various industries.

Steve Jobs, Innovator, Trailblazer

Take the case of the late, great Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer (together with Steve Wozniak). Jobs is a leader with the vision, foresight, and willingness to adapt to the changes in technology that he has created a need that existing markets wasn’t even aware of. As one article about his life puts it;

“Jobs and Wozniak are credited with revolutionizing the computer industry by democratizing the technology and making machines smaller, cheaper, intuitive and accessible to everyday consumers.”

He was an innovator; a trailblazer that made a mark in the world of technology.

When Apple suffered losses, Jobs was eased out of the company he co-founded by reducing his responsibilities—an event that eventually led him to leave Apple. But with his innovative skills and his ability to adapt, he ventured into other businesses, the most notable of which is an animation company that he purchased from George Lucas (which later came to be known as Pixar Animation Studios). By this time, Apple still hasn’t recovered from its losses, and continually floundered in the market.

To cut a long story short, Jobs was given back his position as CEO of Apple and from that time on until his passing, he has developed products that caused Apple’s profits to skyrocket. He is credited for the iMac and Macbook, as well as the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. Through his leadership, Apple became the biggest name in portable computing technology, music players, and smartphones. Every time word hits the grapevine that Apple is working on its latest innovation, competitors rush to develop their own. Steve Jobs is the perfect example of a leader who has taken adaptability to an entirely new level.

Kodak, in contrast to Apple

Kodak on the other hand, refused to change its direction even after being presented with strong evidence that the market is moving towards digital photography. Perhaps owing to the fact that they have been dominating the photographic film market for many years, Kodak management became complacent and remained adamant about not adopting the new technology in time to keep up with the changes in the industry. They believed they could maintain the status quo; a mistake they paid for dearly. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2012.

These two contrasting styles of leadership greatly contributed to their respective organization’s futures; one thrust it towards the direction of growth and expansion, while the other led to its demise.

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