What do companies like BlackBerry®, Yahoo®, MySpace®, AOL®, Kodak®, and Toys “R” Us® all have in common? All these big companies were once very successful in their respective industries. In fact, these companies once dominated their fields. Business owners like myself are interested in why these market leaders failed. No entrepreneur wants to be a has-been. For these forgotten businesses, the one fatal flaw that they all had in common was having a low Adaptability Quotient or AQ. If you have never heard of it, you have come to the right article as I will explain why AQ matters so much for your business and how you can avoid the same pitfall as the fallen giant companies that I mentioned.

adaptability quotient

During the early 90s Yahoo was the world leader in email, online news, and search. Where did it all go wrong?

What Is Adaptability Quotient?

Adaptability Quotient is a person or a company’s ability to make fundamental changes and respond to rapid changes. The Harvard Business Review describes Adaptability Quotient as the “new competitive advantage”. AQ is as important as two other quotients: the IQ, Intelligence Quotient, and the EQ, or Emotional Quotient. However very few are familiar with what AQ is. There is also no established way to measure an individual or a business’ AQ as of today. Possibly the best way we can gain insights on adaptability is by looking at the mistakes of companies who failed to respond to rapid economic and social changes.

The BlackBerry Story And Why Adaptability Matters

Years ago BlackBerry is a status symbol much like how Apple is perceived nowadays. However, immediately after BlackBerry’s success came its downfall. A lot of articles circulating the internet speculate that BlackBerry became too comfortable as the world leader in the industry. But what does that exactly mean?

Nokia® (the parent company of BlackBerry) enjoyed a comfortable 41% market share during its height of success. Nokia probably did recognize new competition but it only measured Apple or Samsung’s products according to its own strengths. Nokia has the famous drop test wherein phones were dropped five feet onto concrete over and over again. Nokia dismissed the innovations that Apple or Samsung were introducing because their phones do not even pass the drop test. See the problem here? Nokia was outdone by competitors because it failed to recognize early on that the market was evolving and that user demands were changing. As a business owner, insight and adaptability are very important skills that you must continuously develop.

How To Develop The Adaptability Quotient

Now that we know what Adaptability Quotient is and how important it is for every entrepreneur and business, let us take a look at the things you can do to make sure you are adapting and responding to changes in your industry’s landscape.

  • Be observant of changes in your industry. Being in the know will help you spot trends before they become mainstream.
  • Practice seeing obstacles as opportunities. For example, new competitors can actually give you insights on what the market wants and you can then improve your product or service to cater to new demands.
  • Update, update, and update. Notice how companies like WordPress, Apple, Samsung, and others keep on rolling out updates? Be relentless in improving your product or service. Otherwise, competitors will do it for you.
  • Listen to your customers, cater to their needs, and the money will follow. Sounds simple but truly a lot of business owners forget this.
  • Experiment and learn from your mistakes. It is no doubt that as an entrepreneur you will make mistakes as you develop your AQ. What is unacceptable is if you fail to learn from your mistakes and worse is if you quit.