Adapting to change in the business environment: A Ronaldo perspective


Ronaldo celebrating #2

Although Portugal crashed out of the Euros early this year, one thing was evident — Cristiano Ronaldo’s still got it, and he’s got it in abundance.

By Andy Kehoe 

Ronaldo is now 36 years of age and still one of the best players in the world. Some still say, the best.

However, one thing keen football fans will notice is that he’s not the player he was. Not in a bad way, he’s just evolved

Now, you may be wondering, ‘what can Ronaldo’s evolution as a football player teach us about the evolution of business strategy?’

Well, hang tight and I'll tell you

Adapting to change

It’s no secret that a few years ago, Ronaldo was — and still is — a hugely talented footballer, possessing blistering pace, eye-watering trickery and most importantly, an eye for goal.

However, naturally, at 36 years old, he has slowed down, and because speed was one of the core aspects of his game, you would expect  him to fall off in a big way.

Yet, eighteen years after his move to the red side of Manchester, he’s still as relevant as he ever has been. He’s adapted his game in such a way that he can play at the highest level, to the same standard, but in a different way.

This same mindset should be applied in business too. Things are always changing;  from retargeting, reverse IP tracking and voice search to programmatic advertising, chatbots and position zero, the world is changing and so is marketing.

It’s all about adapting to changegetting with the times and leaving behind that stubborn mindset.

Why adapting to change in the business environment is important

The business environment is constantly changing, and at a fast pace — fail to adapt and you’ll be left behind. It requires constant monitoring and updating of best practices to stay relevant and on top of your game.  More recently, we’ve seen this with Apple’s IOS14 update and the massive impact it’s had on the abilities of businesses to advertise effectively.   

Let’s go back in time. Remember video rental company, Blockbuster?  When I was growing up, this guy was the monopoly of the video rental business. Now, it’s nowhere to be found.

              … why?

Because it refused to adapt to advancing technology, and so companies like Netflix took the emerging market position — a position which could quite easily have been taken by Blockbuster, given its reputation at the time. That said, it’s still doing a storming business in the small town of Bend, Oregon, where the world’s only remaining Blockbuster franchise is located.

Ironically, Blockbuster would have never existed had its co-founder, not abandoned his business selling software to the oil and gas industry, having spotted the opportunity for rental presented by VHS and Betamax cassettes. Having spotted the opportunity, he and his partner not only dipped their toe in the water, they dived right in and created ripples that affected millions of people’s lives around the globe.

In contrast, unlike Blockbuster, Ronaldo was able to alter his game and adapt to his advancing years.

Ronaldo’s pace was indeed dwindling as the years went by, and, had he persisted with his vintage playing style, he would have been finished a long time ago.

The important lesson here is he noticed it, accepted it and adapted his game to become an out-an-out goal-poacher — a role he could fulfil without the need for too much pace.

How to embrace change at work

Generally, adapting to change in life can be tough. As humans, it’s easy to get comfortable with familiar practices, and difficult to stray from routines to which we have become accustomed. In the words of another global sports star, MMA fighter, Conor McGregor, “the more you seek the uncomfortable, the more you will become comfortable”.

My view is that the best way to embrace change is to find others who are struggling with it and help them.

Want to understand a new technology? Find someone who is more luddite than you and learn what you need to explain it to them.

Want to deal with a structural change in the workplace? Find someone else who is struggling and help them through the process. In some ways, teaching is the best form of learning.

In this fast-paced technological world, adaptability coupled with passion for what you do is the key to success. Never be afraid of change. If you don’t dip your toe in the water, you’ll never make ripples.

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