14 Essential Steps For Building An Adaptable Business Culture


Flexibility has been a key trait that leaders have leaned into and embraced as the last few years have unfolded. Beyond the benefits to leadership, building an organizational culture that’s adaptable to the needs of both employees and customers, as well as a constantly changing market, helps ensure that the organization is able to pivot in a short amount of time.

The business industry is rarely ever a sure thing, and preparation before it’s needed can prevent stagnant processes from hindering business growth. To help, the members of Forbes Business Council share essential steps a business leader should take to build a culture of adaptability into their business.

1. Learn To Accept Change

Without your willingness to accept change, being flexible and creating an adaptable environment are nearly impossible. The one step I recommend businesses take as they forge through their journey is to learn to accept change. The entire culture surrounding them will know to do the same and many more successes may be found. – Cami Powell, The Self-Employed Journey

2. Have A Growth Mindset

Flexibility requires a growth mindset, meaning there is active learning throughout the organization with the intention of making adjustments. We do this by creating psychological safety where teams aren’t afraid to fail, asking questions is applauded, learning programs are standard from the point of onboarding and clear communication streams allow for seamless shifts in the delivery process. – Afshan Hussain, Fishawack Health


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3. Adopt Transparency

Flexibility comes easily to those organizations that have also adopted transparency. Transparency around how you build, what you deploy and who you employ are key factors in keeping people comfortably adaptable to whatever changes the organization needs to make. This transparency can’t stop internally either; it needs to be adopted broadly beyond employees to customers and shareholders too. – Shayne Skaff, Blooma

4. Let Go Of Static Processes and Operations

Here at Lifetime Quality Roofing, personal happiness is our No. 1 core value. We try to provide an inviting, exciting workplace for both our internal and external staff. We are constantly adapting internal processes, procedures and operations to keep up with the changing times. A great person once said, “If you’re not growing, you are dying.” Lifetime is constantly in a state of perpetual growth. – Zach Willard, Lifetime Quality Roofing and Storm Restoration

5. Empower Your Team To Enact Change

The key to building a culture of adaptability is empowering the team to enact change in real time. Members of the management team must be process-oriented with a demonstrated ability to think on their feet. The team should have the confidence and institutional knowledge to draw from best practices and experiences in order to make decisions—big and small—without compromising the output. – Miguel Castro, LGS Panama Tourism Development

6. Create Structure For Employees

I often talk about freedom in a framework for organizations. Having structure that gives employees autonomy over the aspects of the “how” will help with adaptability, resilience and motivation. – Jenni Field, Redefining Communications

7. Build In Proactivity

Flexibility is a lie unless the business builds a culture of proactivity. If the team continually reacts and struggles to get ahead of work, how can anyone feel comfortable leaving early to see the school play or taking a mental health day? Set clear priorities for the day, week and month. Team members who value flexibility will meet those priorities and maximize their time away from the job. – Lesley Hensell, Riverbend Consulting

8. Set Boundaries

Allowing talent on your team to “play” their best game is key to extracting the very best performance from each of them individually. An extremely proactive management approach is to draw the outside lines and have your team play their very best game within those lines with total flexibility that allows them to showcase their talents. When the lines are crossed, nudge them back inside. – Mike Costigan, Millionaire Agent Academy

9. Use Core Values And A Mission As A Guide

Establish your core values and a mission or purpose. We utilize our core values to establish who we are and how we operate, leaning into them for hiring, firing, promoting, demoting and discipline. We are a roofing contracting company, so our mission is to revolutionize an industry and change the way people view roofing. We value utilizing new technologies to extend the lives of roofs, saving our community money and creating a culture of change that transfers to the people we interact with. – Kenny Robinson, Roof Savers LLC

10. Foster Collaboration

Creating a culture of collaboration with a can-do attitude is key to adaptability, which in turn is key to the success of a modern, growing organization. This is especially true in an international organization where cultural aspects, labor laws and the ways of working are ever present challenges, but virtual culture and pandemic-driven separation are areas where we need to find a better balance in the future. – TH Herbert, Semarchy

11. Create An Environment For Innovation

In order to build a culture of adaptability, organizations must first have a process and culture for innovation. Businesses must create an environment where ideas are captured, nurtured and respected so that all within the organization can have a positive impact on business process improvement and product development. – Samuel Johnston, nth Venture

12. Avoid Bureaucracy

To be flexible, you need to be flat. Flat organizations win because they can be nimble, make decisions quickly and move. Any person at your company should be able to reach out directly to anyone else, no questions asked. This allows your company to be flexible and nimble. Bureaucracy kills flexibility. – Eric Berkley, Berkley

13. Be Agile

Creating a culture of adaptability in any business relies on the ability to be agile. It’s critical that companies have a culture that embraces constant change, whether it’s with a go-to-market strategy, workforce planning or product road map. Companies should also have proper systems in place to easily adjust their businesses to changing factors in their industry or in the overall economy. – Yong Kim, Wonolo

14. Think Long Term

Don’t change your organization’s direction as a response to political discourse or the hot new topic of the day. Instead, make adaptations to shifts in the marketplace that will deliver long-term, business-building benefits for the company. – Dr. David Lenihan, Tiber Health



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