Adapt or Die – A Darwinian Take on Business Continuity

Most businesses experience change constantly. Markets, technologies, regulations and strategies all evolve. Enterprises that stand still get left behind and disappear, one way or another.

While we have business continuity theories, principles and tools galore, it’s worth revisiting one of the most fundamental concepts from time to time – that of Darwin’s idea of evolution, specifically the survival of the fittest.

It’s a concept that can help BC planners and managers avoid BC issues internally and externally, as well as over the short and the long term.

The first thing to understand is the word “fittest”. Darwin was clear about this. It means “the best adapted to the environment”, which is not necessarily the strongest or the fastest.

In business terms, the organisation best adapted to its environment may not have the latest technology, provide the fastest delivery service, or offer the lowest prices, compared to others.

If these characteristics are part of successful companies, it is because they turn out to be the best solutions for meeting specific business goals and business continuity needs.

Technology is a prime example. Companies that rush into technology, hoping for a miracle cure for business ills, are often disappointed.

Amazon is one of the most technology-intensive retailers on the planet, but because technology supports its goals of offering superior service and competitive prices to the largest market possible.

Yet elsewhere, successful luxury goods manufacturers see low prices as anathema. They will even restrict availability of exotic products to build “buzz” and demand, paradoxically ensuring better business continuity.

Similarly, for short term business continuity needs, an accountancy firm may need absolute data integrity, but can afford a systems outage of perhaps up to a day.

Fast-moving ecommerce firms handling millions of virtual shopping baskets may take the opposite view.

They can live with a few baskets having to be reset now and again, but must provide near real-time response to their customers.

So, adapt or die, but adapt properly for business continuity today and tomorrow.