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Culture to Performance | Part 4 | Adaptability: Three Rules That Shape Your Company’s Performance


In part 2 of this series we recognized the need for Consistency in driving Core Values, Agreement, and Coordination and Integration. And, while this area of predictability is critical to our cultural health and performance, there are also areas where we need to be ready, willing, and able to turn on a dime.

John Wooden, legendary head coach of the UCLA basketball team, led the Bruins on a three-year winning streak that is unlikely to ever be surpassed in men’s basketball. He was a stickler for consistency from the values of his players, how they play as a team, even how they put their socks on (his first lesson to the team). They practiced, drilled, prepared, and won… for three years straight! In these areas, consistency was key.

He also had to adapt. He knew that every opponent, player, and environment presented unique and evolving challenges. He said in his book, Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, “Adaptability is being able to adjust to any situation at any given time…If we fail to adapt, we fail to move forward.”

In our world, every competitor, customer, and market present unique and evolving challenges. So, here are three rules that can shape our ability to adapt to those challenges, create a healthy culture, and drive performance.

Focus on the Customer | We have an ongoing choice of listening and responding to the needs of our customers or driving ahead with what’s seems to be working. If we take the time and effort to listen, we develop a deep understanding of what our customers want and need. With this understanding, our decisions, responses, and strategies are directed to the wants and needs of those buying our products and services.

Create Change | While listening and understanding are important, change requires flexibility, cooperation, and a consistent drive for improvement. Change of any kind is a difficult thing for many people. This is why the higher value of adapting to customer’s wants and needs has to be embraced as a core value throughout the organization.

Keep on Learning | Innovation and change thrive in a learning environment. When we grow the knowledge and capabilities of our people we drive opportunities that simply wouldn’t have been seen otherwise. An environment of change will certainly bring opportunities but it will also bring risk-taking and mistakes. But when people are rewarded for risk-taking and geared to learn from their mistakes a healthy culture of adaptability can grow. And that brings more opportunity.

88 straight wins, 10 National Championships in 12 years, and a record of 664 wins and 162 losses. Wooden knew how to drive focus, learning, and change that created truly legendary performance. We can “move forward” and shape our companies’ performance with the same kind of commitment to adaptability.

Jon Reed is ADG’s Director of Culture and People Development. Click here to read more about Jon's background and experience.

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