Forget the sentiment, start admiring grey squirrels

Forget the sentiment, start admiring grey squirrels

Why? Because grey squirrels know the first rule of success – be prepared to change.

Red squirrels don’t digest acorns well, they prefer pine-cones. Chop down the coniferous forest and they’re in trouble.

Grey squirrels aren’t so choosy, adapting to eat what’s available (pine cones, acorns, seeds, don’t mind!) and ending up twice the size of reds, often producing twice as many babies in a year.

So maybe it’s time to put aside your grumpiness about the decline of the native species and to start behaving like the winners!

Charles Darwin is often credited as saying: It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

So how does your brand or business need to adapt? What’s going to change about the environment you inhabit? What will soon be different about your customers, the market, the regulations, the available technology?

Your futures department will know, so why don’t you ask them? You don’t have a futures department? Maybe you need to set one up.

What would it do?

Well, thinking aloud here, one of its jobs could be to look inside your business and its processes and work out where you’re being a red squirrel. Inflexible. Static in behaviour or thinking. At risk if someone chops the conifers down.

Then they could look outside. Sniff the breeze for change, eavesdrop the online conversations that are happening about your brand. Work out what to do about Google’s latest algorithm, watch what others are doing in your market, sit and think laterally about the future of your brand, its franchise and the way it communicates.

In evolution, adaptation is a messy, accidental process that involves dead ends, false starts and trial and error. It doesn’t have to be that way in business, especially if you get yourself a store of facts, insights and plans that will sustain you when the hard times come.

Which reminds me – there’s another way in which the grey squirrel wins over the red – greys have a much better memory for where they stored the nuts!

Kevin Murphy

Kevin Murphy

Kevin Murphy has shelves of International and UK marketing accolades, including Design Agency of the Year, Client Agency of the Year and the Institute of Marketing Gold Award for Strategy.

Kevin himself won Communications Entrepreneur of the Year.