Read Adaptability and Learn to Thrive in Any Environment

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Adaptability: The Art of Winning in an Age of UncertaintyI don’t normally review two books by the same author in a single year because getting one book published in a year is often more than any author can do.

But Max McKeown is another story.  I introduced you to Max when I reviewed The Strategy Book , which was really published as part of a series by Financial Times.   Inside the same envelope, I also found Adaptability: The Art of Winning in an Age of UncertaintyAdaptability is Max McKeown’s new book that was also released in 2012.

Become A Conscious Adapter

My friend John is a savvy CEO.  He started a manufacturing company about ten years ago from nothing and has grown it into a multi-million dollar business.  I think that one of the reasons for his success is his ability to stand firm on his mission and values and adapt on everything else.

For example, he’s firmly committed to outrageous customer service and having fun with running his business.  And everything else is up for grabs.  He’s a master of adapting his business and his life based on what’s going on around him.  He does this naturally; it’s intuitive for him.

But what about the rest of us?  How important is adaptability and how can we harness it to manage our businesses and our lives in a way that doesn’t drive us into extinction?  As you read Adaptability, you’ll begin to see patterns and strategies that you can begin to take on inside your own life and business strategy.

You’ll find these nuggets of wisdom inside the text that will make you take a moment, put the book down and start thinking about how you’re going to remind yourself to do this when you get the opportunity.  Here’s one that I found:

Reverse the obvious adaptation:  Speaking the opposite of the prevailing wisdom can create opportunities. 

McKeown uses Levi Strauss as an example.  The company proactively made a commitment to water reclamation and quality back in 1992.  Then in 2007, they took a deeper look at the life cycle of the famous 501 jean and discovered that over 3000 liters of water are used from the production of cotton through the process through keeping them clean.

That’s when they went into a partnership with P&G to raise awareness of the benefits of using cold water to wash the jeans. So what’s the adaptation here?  Being proactive and saying something and doing something instead of hiding it from their customers – which might have been the default action.

Instead of “Adapt or Die” Think “Adapt and Thrive”

Adaptability is filled with story after story, case study after case study, example after example just like the one I shared here.  The overall lesson of the book is that you don’t have to adapt or die as if there isn’t any other choice.  You can adapt and thrive because you HAVE choices.

Inside Adaptability, McKeown references millions of years of evolution to create a practical and strategic set of strategies that will change how you think about adaptation.  Instead of adapting because you HAVE to, you can take on adapting because you WANT to.

McKeown Is The Master of Simplifying Strategies

Max McKeown (@MaxMcKeown) is an English writer, consultant and researcher specializing in innovation strategy, leadership and culture. He has written six influential books and conducts research with Warwick Business School.

When I originally introduced you to Max McKeown, I told you that he is known as someone who can take complex ideas and simplify them in a way that gets you engaged and excited about implementing them.  I would have to agree after having read two of his books.

Your Journey Towards Adaptability

Innovation is a popular strategy that business books like to throw around as  a sort of silver bullet to success.  As I was reading, I have to say I found myself wondering what the distinction was between innovation and adaptability.  Here’s how McKeown answers that question:

“Adaptability proves that innovation is important, but not enough. The ability to adapt smarter and faster than the situation changes is what makes the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.”

Adaptability is organized into three parts:

  1. Chapters 1 – 6:  Recognizing the need to adapt
  2. Chapters 7 – 11:  Understand necessary adaptation
  3. Chapter 12-17:  Adapt as necessary

I recommend that you have a notebook handy or a highlighter because you’re bound to come across cool tidbits of adaptability strategies that you’ll want to bring with you as you run your business.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking differently about everything and maybe acting or reacting to things differently after you’ve read this book.

Adaptability Contains Valuable Lessons For A Broad Audience

This is a book that a broad audience will find valuable; business owners, entrepreneurs, employees and maybe even students.  Adaptability will tickle your brain and get you thinking in new ways about how you might handle things differently.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."