adopt adapt improve

The Round Table Motto is ‘ADOPT-ADAPT-IMPROVE’. This motto was taken from a speech delivered by the Duke of Windsor in 1927 in which he stated: “The young business and professional men of this country must get together around a table, adopt methods that have proved so sound in the past, adapt them to changing needs of the times and, whenever possible, improve them.

What these words do actually mean nowadays for startups and firms in general?  

Adopt means to take on as one’s own, like an idea, a process, an attitude, or a behaviour

Adapt means basically to modify something, to adjust it to a somehow new situation.

Improve is strictly related with the well-known ISO Standards concept of learning by doing, checking continuously the possibility for taking a quality assurance system (processes of whatever kind), a step further.

Small and medium sized firms are naturally adaptive, but sometimes they miss some opportunities in the other two areas. Or better, they miss the big picture, the reason why “’ADOPT-ADAPT-IMPROVE’ motto should be written of every firm’s office wall.

Adopting in facts is the first act: every firm is at its very beginning busy analysing the external environment, try to adopt some or all the following aspects:

  • Best practices
  • Standards
  • Technical requirements
  • Business models
  • Rituals

But what next? This is the point. The most complicated thing to do is then

Adapting all this stuff to firm’s present situation. A best practice could be inspiring, but is born for another firm, a standard need to be contextualised if you don’t want to cause damages to your own firm, a business model need a personalisation to work properly, etc. and this is hard work.  Sometimes entrepreneurs refuse to think this way because the fall in love with some previous and off-the-peg approach: damages are there to be noticed for many years to come.

Improving is then the last (continuous) step: is where the previously adapted models/practices/standards/rituals produce a real added value for the firm. Sometimes an adapted and optimized business model is exactly what makes the firm unique and successful.


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