Why I Believe In Evolution

Evolution is a fantastic topic … when it comes to business. As far as humans, since there’s not one single person who can prove physical evolution—us evolving from a single cell organism that got tired of living in a mud pit— believing in it is beyond ridiculous. But that’s another blog post for another time.

As a business leader, though, I can prove evolution to you all day long. Writing a letter now only requires an Internet connection to be delivered. If you want to go see your family, you no longer have to hitch up the horse and load up the buggy. Well … unless you’re Amish. In which case, you’re probably not reading my blog.

With the advent of the World Wide Web, it is now considerably easier for people to learn how to fix things, make things or create things. In the early days of the Internet, we would have to hire or pay someone to create a Web page. Now, within minutes, you can create your own from a free template.

So how does this apply to you? It’s simple. You have to make sure you’re willing and able to evolve with the times, which may mean becoming something different than you are right now. A railroad company that doesn’t become a “transportation” company and find different avenues to transport, like truck and air, will soon become all but extinct. (Perhaps you know of one.)

As you look at your product line, don’t just focus on how to make it better. Ask yourself the questions: Is this the only way for my customer to get my product? Are there easier and less expensive methods? Is my competition delivering it in a better way than I am? Do I need to reinvent what I have to fit customers now or in the future?

If your widget is, say, toilet paper, you’re probably going to be OK. But if you are like the Post Office, I suggest you start quickly reinventing yourself. Maybe look in the “Yellow Pages” to see if you can find someone to help with the process.

Question: How have you seen companies not evolve and pay a price for it? 

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23 thoughts on “Why I Believe In Evolution”

  1. This has to be one of the hardest parts about business. But better to make a solid decision to control your destiny than become paralyzed and left behind or fail altogether.

  2. We have been very proactive up until recently. Twitter / Facebook are not high on the priority list yet. I’m guessing that we have to start doing more in those areas as to not end up in the dust!

    The “yellow pages” people still call here thinking they are the only way to advertise! I have to politely turn them away.

  3. I’ve seen too many companies AND people that don’t evolve and pay a high price for it. It’s so critical! And I don’t think evolving is jumping on the latest trend just for the sake of it and churning out Facebook-Twitter-LinkedIn-Pinterest accounts with no substance.

    Evolving does not have to mean moving away from your “why” and the nature of your business. It’s finding new ways to accomplish your long term goals.

    The “transportation company” still wants to help people or goods get from point A to point B, they may just choose different vehicles to do it.

    Personally, evolving for me has meant choosing different delivery methods but staying true to my calling to be a teacher. When my dad bought our first PC when I was about 19, – about 5 years ago 😉 -I got so frustrated trying to understand how it worked that I vowed I’d never use it.

    Since then, I did not only learn how to use a computer proficiently, but my career is 100% computer-centered. When I struggled with that monochrome monitor (OK I just dated myself) and primitive word processor with 32 KB memory, I never dreamt that I would be developing eLearning content that has been translated into 16 languages.

    Evolving is not becoming something different, it’s just about finding a path to excellence.

  4. During the 2 years that I was in my Master’s program, I watched it evolve from completely face-to-face courses to 50%-100% online courses. The university had to adjust because of budget cuts and losing students to other institutions who provided more flexibility.

    In my business, I find myself meeting more via a web cam or screensharing than driving to clients these days.

  5. Great thoughts! I think one of the biggest examples of a company not evolving is probably Kodak.. They were hanging onto the film industry and were slow to move towards digital photo in any large way, and we saw what happened to them!

    It seems that the businesses survive–and thrive–are those that are constantly doing what you suggest, looking over the horizon at where they, and the world are headed and making sure they’re a step or two ahead of the game

  6. I think of the age-old stories about the buggy whip makers who went out of business when the car got popular. Evolving may involve asking yourself some tough questions along the way.

  7. Chris, that was a catchy title! I read the comments looking to see if anyone got bowed up about it. . . you have a classy and committed audience.

    I still use Kodak and love their products despite the fact that their website malfunctions quite often!

    And I fear for the Post office. . . what is their problem?? So many people can see obvious solutions for them (who truly needs mail delivery on Saturday??) but they seem to have no ears.

    Yellow pages? Who can even recognize which is the real one anymore?

  8. Chris, I just started checking out your blogs, and love them. I know – What took me so long right! I am a Dentist, in my profession there are tons of Dinasours – who don’t believe in marketing, or websites, they are strictly fee for service, don’t take insurance, don’t keep up with technology. And many of them are struggling. While I am having my best year ever. I feel like you are right on brother. We either evolve and pursue the best course or die.

  9. “You have to make sure you’re willing and able to evolve with the times, which may mean becoming something different than you are right now.”
    Totally reminded me of a former co-worker! Best man I’ve ever worked with 🙂 We worked at an IT business, he was one of the main techs, and I would field calls before they got to the techs. This particular customer was going on and on about how he needed our help because he was 67 years old. I didn’t tell that customer, my co-worker was 65! 🙂 He learns something new in the IT world every single day. He’s a perfect example of being willing to evolve with the times.

  10. True Chris! We have seen companies like Kodak trying to reinvent itself when the whole spectrum of digital photography came into existence.
    This applies to every business. In my country, I have seen the decline of cable industry with the replacement of direct-to-home services. Hence, as a business leader, one needs to keep his ears and eyes open at all times so that he is able to foresee the future trend.

  11. You’re right, Chris, and there is another lack of evolution that equals extinction–the lack of transition planning for small businesses. I’ve seen too many really great (particularly family-owned) businesses that refuse to look at leadership transition until it is too late…and they die. Glad to see Dave being proactive about this early in the game!

  12. Oh YEAH!  post office – you said it!  The other day, someone from the postal system was trying to sway us to use their “overnight” delivery – which by the way  – is NOT overnight.  Why would I risk using the USPS when there are companies which tell me “when it absolutely has to be there overnight….” – I want the ASSURANCE that it will be.  
    What others did – the USPS could have done – but didn’t EVOLVE.  And now they will pay the price.  
     
    Also – look at K-Mart – TG&Y – who would have thought that Wal-Mart could have come in and took over?  Because they did not EVOLVE!  

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