Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Adapt or Perish - Imtitola, Asst. Professor, Commerce Department


Competition exists in every sphere and facet of our lives from politics, sports to business. Political parties are redefining themselves to appeal to the people, sports men are using better equipment and ideas to get an edge over their opponents, businesses have to generate profit or eventually collapse. Healthy competition demands that we adapt to survive and to stay relevant. However, for competition to be useful it requires an environment with a level playing field consisting of the basic essentials of a well governed society. It also requires an understanding that we need competitors to push us sometimes.



Adapt or Perish




What comes to your mind when one says the word ‘Survival of the Fittest’? “Survival of the Fittest” is actually a phrase that originated in the evolutionary theory as an alternative way of describing the mechanism of natural selection and was coined by the naturalist, Herbert Spencer. He first used this phrase after reading Charles Darwin’s (an English naturalist and geologist) 5th edition of On the Origin of Species published in 1869.


The interpretation of this phrase is to express the theory of ‘fit’ and ‘unfit’ individual or species in a test. It is the theory that the fittest individual/species survives; there is little evidence that competition has been the driving force in the evolution of large groups. Every person has their own opinion and in this case, it may not be acceptable to all or applicable, in all the areas. The individual/species that survives are not always the strongest, fastest, or smartest. When pressed for a further explanation of the term, however, the majority will probably accept this statement, while others may deny.

Today, we are witnessing lots of emerging trends, not only in the political scenario, but also in different social, economic and technological fields - which involve heavy competition to survive. Besides competition, the ability to adapt to any situation or environment is the driving force behind survival. Competition prevails in different spheres of life like politics where there is inevitable competition within the government, and even - to provide an easy example - in sports in which winning is the primary goal of every sportsman. It is also present in the field of business in which businessmen compete with one another to survive in the market and so on. What’s important to ask here is: Why do we compete with one another? And why is it necessary to compete? The answer to this question could be explained by the theory of “survival of the fittest”. To put it simply, we compete because we want to be the best and also because our very survival depends on it.

Here, I would like to express this phrase from the business environment terminology. Growing a business is not an easy task. It is not about isolating oneself from a competitor or working against one another in order to succeed. The fact is, successful competitors tend to meet on a more common ground. One day they will be collaborating, and the next day they will be bidding against each other. The key to survive or win market shares is to differentiate one’s company from ones competitors by providing products, services, and solutions that will make their product more desirable than that of their competitors. The central question is: why do some companies thrive while others perish? Why do some make extravagant profits, while others losses? What is the secret to survival? The factor determining survival is often not superiority over another in competition but ability to survive dramatic changes in environmental condition (some of which might be changes in customer taste and behavior). The strategy of a business or a brand is to be best “fitted” or best “adapted”, to its environment (market and customers) to survive and flourish. Right products/services to the right customer at the right time take the lead. No one can argue with the fact that our economy has become progressively more globalised and as such, all customers expect great products/services, regardless of their background. Businessmen or companies needs to cater to the many different needs and expectations of today’s increasingly diverse customers. We are also witnessing dramatic changes in our own market itself. Different competitors exist, which show that the attitude and buying behavior or the capacity of consumers is changing. The challenge here is consumers tend to keep on switching from one product to another. The reason behind this is the availability of different brands and companies. A smart entrepreneur needs to be aware of the changing environment scenario and the behavior of the consumer. By providing the right product at the right time at the right place and at the right price through the right channels of distribution, customer loyalty will be achieved. This will enable a company to remain in the race of the survival of the fittest.

Take a pause and look around, you will see mushrooming of smart, creative and innovative entrepreneurs. Can we make use of such resources for everyone’s benefit? Many entrepreneurs attempt to start their own venture, which is very good, but unfortunately some happen to shut down, while some are on the edge and barely surviving. Many businesses fail to survive long because they produce goods which are not fit with the environment and not according to the needs and wants of their consumers.

Entrepreneurs must learn to adapt and do things differently; he/she should have a plan and not merely a dream. An important quality one must possess is the ability to listen to other people’s advice because they need people to bounce off ideas and scrutinise what is being done, because ultimately it is the public they need to please and not themselves alone. One’s success is about the survival of a business and not about individual interests. If one can consistently cater to public demand and wants, then I believe that at the end of the day, you can be proud of your company’s achievement. Wise decisions made today will definitely ensure survival in the future.
“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email: admin@tetsocollege.org”.  

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