Endangered Species

Endangered Species


That’s the number of animals categorized as ‘very likely to become extinct’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. From the blue-throated macaw to the hawksbill sea turtle, these creatures may cease to exist in the very near future.

Too bad the IUCN doesn’t create a similar list for companies, or careers. If they did, would yours make the dreaded Red List? Just like in the wild, organizations that refuse to adapt to changing conditions, disregard new threats, or fail to evolve into better forms of their previous selves run the same risk as the Yangtze River dolphin. Instead of waiting for the fight of our lives, wouldn’t it make more sense to avoid the list altogether?

Lacoste, famous for their crocodile golf shirts, could have been yet another brand of the past that was put out to pasture by fresh, new, more modern competitors. Yet this classic brand remains relevant by choice, warding off threats by embracing new trends. Last month, the brand launched a limited-edition series of shirts in their Save Our Species collection. Replacing the iconic Lacoste crocodile logo are ten endangered species. The number of each shirt produced corresponds to the number of remaining animals in each of the ten species requiring rescue. Shirts sell for $185, with all profits donated to the IUCN.

Symbolically, Lacoste is helping endangered species while simultaneously protecting their own sustainability as a company. By remaining relevant to customers, embracing creative approaches to brand building and marketing, and having the courage to shake things up, they’re showing the stuff that long-term success is made of. 

In your own business, carefully examine those untouchable traditions of the past and challenge the assumption that what worked yesterday will continue to be optimal for the future. The things that got us here are rarely the same things that help us achieve the next level.

The Guam flycatcher, the Caribbean monk seal, and the blackfin cisco are now completely extinct from our planet.  In business, this is an avoidable trap if we learn to embrace the principles of innovation, reinvention, and transformation. Even if you’re on the Red List today, you can reverse your fate by becoming the solution to customers’ future needs rather than previous ones.

Here’s to hoping the Iberian lynx and purple-faced langur are able to overcome their existential threat and embrace a sustainable, bright future. Here’s to hoping you do the same.