What’s the difference between an adaptation and a nadaptation?

Human beings have been successful because of our ability to consciously adapt to the changing environment. Other animals can only adapt through natural selection, which is an unconscious process which they can’t influence.

Our environment is constantly changing. If you want to be successful, it’s crucial for you to find opportunities by adapting to the changing environment. An opportunity is a positive adaption to your environment.

Unfortunately, rather than choosing adaptation, we often choose to follow its evil twin brother — nadaptation. Rather than positively adapting to the environment, and creating value, a nadaptation negatively adapts to the environment, and destroys value.

For example, when the Coca-Cola company introduced New Coke back in 1985, it meant it to be an adaption to a changing market that preferred a sweeter beverage. But it failed and turned out to be a nadaptation.

Why do people consciously choose nadaptations instead of adaptations? It’s a failure of process. Because people evaluate new opportunities without a systematic process, they often choose nadaptations. Nadaptations are the same as nopportunities, in that they destroy value rather than creating it.

To tell the difference between an adaptation and a nadaptation, you need to realistically assess whether the opportunity you’re pursuing will create value for you or destroy value. You can easily do that by filtering it through the nine key drivers of value, such as useful service, scale, and relevance.

Using a systematic opportunity methodology that incorporates key drivers will help you to understand what value means in the context of your own opportunity environment. This will help to ensure that you choose and pursue valuable adaptations and opportunities rather than nadaptations and nopportunities.