Could this be the fundamental question for every business leader today: do you have a business that is ready to adapt?

We imagine that most organisations would answer yes. But then we wondered what would be their level of confidence in that answer? And what might affect that level of confidence? We reached the conclusion that a confident response might depend on two factors: people and process.

Success starts with the people…

It seems that consumers are ever more demanding. Increasingly, to win the savvy customer’s business, you need the right thinking in the right places. Where necessary, you must be ready and prepared to support change to retain your apparently fickle buyers. If you can’t offer customers what they want, and quickly, they will find a competitor who can.

In a fast evolving commercial environment, having clear insight and understanding of the consumer is often cited as business critical. The reality is that the people involved are the critical factor. You need people who have the vision and courage to make decisions and to act on this insight and understanding. Change is often delivered by forward thinking teams and this change invariably starts from the top. It is only with the right leadership that change can happen at the right pace and in the right way for your business to prosper.

It is not just about change, however. It is also about retaining integrity and trust. Online research and shopping has become a way of life for most people. Undoubtedly, people are still concerned with quality and price. But, when they buy online, trust becomes a major factor in a buying decision. If we break or compromise this trust, people seem more than willing to try new products or brands in a search for a better alternative – and they are often spoilt for choice. The right leadership focuses not only on making change happen, but making sure that the change is demonstrably right for the customer.

…but people need a great process to deliver success

Timing is everything and the timing of change can make or break a company. The milestones that shape the future of a business can take many forms. These can be as diverse as restructuring a team, winning a game-changing piece of business, or investing in new technology. The change itself might be fundamental, but it is the when and the how that so often determines the success.

You need the framework to understand your customers, and the desire to make changes to use this knowledge effectively. Then you need the processes to deliver such changes effectively and on time. Leaders need both the courage to act and the ability to implement. They need to develop a corporate mindset that is flexible but then they need to be open to technological change if they are to meet the challenges that they uncover.

Legacy or slow technology is often cited as a barrier to change. But this should not be used as an excuse. You can change your technology. Technology should never constrain your business innovations, it should enhance them. The driver for any business should be the ability to identify and deliver what the customer wants.

So, is your business ready to adapt? How confident are you in your answer to that question?