In biological terms, it’s all about survival of the fittest, but Darwin got it right when he said that evolution rewarded the species that was most adaptable to change.
In the digital age, businesses survive and grow if they’re adaptable and smart. It’s all about survival of the smartest. When digital tech drives exponential change, you have to be exponentially smart, and continuously innovate and reinvent yourself.
Simply working harder and faster, more productively, doesn’t cut it anymore. That leads to the Red Queen effect, running faster and faster, but never catching up, until you’ve exhausted all your resources.
Take Tesla as a good example. When they reinvented the electric car battery back in 2020, they didn’t just improve on existing technology. They redesigned the form factor; changed the cell chemistry; radically improved the production process; and made the battery pack a structural element of the vehicle platform. Each one of these innovations, on its own, improved the range and power, and also reduced the cost and weight. Taken together, they were a step-change in the industry, and their would-be competitors are still three years behind.
That’s the type of thinking that all businesses need to survive the future. Stamina and persistence help, but to lead the field, reinvent the industry, and enjoy zero competition, hard work is not enough. You need to be the smartest.
Image credit: Tesla