Century Champions

The lessons of adaptation

Much is written about the importance of agility in this business climate. But our Steffen Frey says a valuable lesson can be learned from some of the oldest companies in how to keep the wheels of progress turning.

Back in 1909, Henry Ford announced the institution of his first production line for the Model T.  Ford would build and sell just one model of car and it would be made on one chassis and, as the American industrialist so famously put it, customers could have their car in any color they wanted … ‘’so long as it is black.’’

Ford’s idea – born long before anyone imagined today’s agile methods of manufacturing - was to mass produce his car because he felt the American market was ready for horseless transportation and that if he could make enough Model T’s he could capture the market. 

In 1909 Ford sold about 10,000 of his cars in the U.S. By1927 his annual sales had topped 15 million.

Ford is a great example of a ‘century champion.’’ A company that has changed and adapted with the ups and downs of the global economy, variations in consumer demands in design and technology, and the easing and tightening of government regulations around the world.

Others would include fellow automakers Daimler AG and General Motors, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell, and electronics icon Siemens AG.

While all have faced different challenges and grown at different rates, all have also been able to adapt to the markets and environments in front of them and survive when many of their peers faltered.

In today’s business world we value the agile company and with good reason. Agile methods allow us to create the processes, tools, and training to enable us to respond to customer wants and needs and market and economic changes while controlling costs and quality and influencing our bottom line.

Spotify, Netflix, and Tesla are great examples of brands that have seized the agile movement and carved out their places in our business landscape.

But that said, the lesson learned from these Century Champions is a powerful one. 

After decades of facing every kind of change they have flourished and stayed because they are not only agile but adaptive. What they have done is found the balance between adaptation and agility that has allowed them to move forward in good and bad times.

Adaptive companies embrace change. They study emerging trends and ideas. They look for and seek to understand economic shifts. They find and take advantage of advancements in technology. Like Henry Ford, they see what customers want, or will want down the road, and they find a way to give it to them.

You can apply this same principle to IT services here at AEB.  Stable business services, highly scalable, robust and proven.  We have agile, dynamic, flexible applications to work with your processes. Learn more about how we can help you be both more agile and more adaptive at aeb.com.