As entities continue to propagate, they must adapt, evolve and populate to simply survive in their environment.
Scenario 1: As we advance past the quarter mark of the 21st century, companies must now compete for our business or starve, grow weak and die. This is not unlike the predators of the Serengeti.
A company’s ability to incorporate its product or service into consumers’ lives seamlessly will be the determining factor that decides if the brand sinks or swims. If they can navigate the channels that their target audience can be found on, and deliver satisfactory service, all while being accountable, then they just might stand a chance to survive into the world of tomorrow and earn a chance to dominate for generations.
Scenario 2: Predators, like lions, and prey, like gazelles, have evolved symbiotically on the savannah. Each type of animal needed the other to push each other’s limitations. Through this symbiotic relationship, the biology of both species has advanced, becoming more complex.
The lion has evolved over millennia to sniff out prey and stalk. It knows to bite the neck to kill and it knows how to chase. Everything about the lion, from its coat to its forward-facing eyes and fangs has evolved to make this beast a supreme predator.
Many of its non-carnivorous counterparts, like gazelles, have evolved at an equal rate to ward off predators like lions. Gazelles have great hearing and amazing horizontal sight. Its speed and acceleration are exceptional, and it can kick in defense. They also have high endurance and their horns deliver piercing blows to any unassuming predators.
Once there was a time when gazelles were less challenging prey, but they developed the traits needed to detect predators. Predators like lions in turn needed to work harder and adapt to catch their prey. The weak lions who didn’t adapt starved and the gazelles who didn’t adapt got eaten, leaving the two animals in a perpetual cycle of high stakes evolution.
Whether in the natural world or in the business world this extension of the Evolutionary Theory and natural selection can be witnessed firsthand. It’s innate, it is our behavior, but measured over countless lifetimes, and this rule extends to all living creatures past and present. To sum up cleanly, The Red Queen Effect is
The perceived and actual necessity to continuously adapt and change to survive, or perhaps even thrive, against other people, organisms, or forces, who are taking similar action in an ever-changing climate.
Where does the phrase Red Queen come from?
The Red Queen is from Lewis Carroll’s novel “Through the Looking Glass.” The Red Queen notes to Alice that in the Red Queen’s world, Alice will have to run as fast as she can to stay in place and twice as quickly to move forward.
This might be a fun riddle but this quote speaks to the cutthroat, and do-or-die nature of nature itself. But seen through the guise as a riddle, it can be interpreted that one must work smarter and not faster to succeed.
The effect is an evolutionary hypothesis that organisms must constantly evolve to survive, reproduce, and hopefully gain an advantage.
Surely in today’s age, every animal including and especially humans have gone through millennia of evolution and all creatures have become so complex in every single way. All of Earth’s species are proof of successful generations working smarter and not harder.
If you remain complacent, you may fall behind. To survive the next day, you must be ready to face every obstacle that you encounter, as one false move may result in your demise. Of course, in the modern-day, the stakes are much lower than that of old, but we still have to plan our moves strategically to be successful in this digitized world.
People who sacrifice their present for the future are the ones who see the best results, and the Red Queen Effect is a great principle backing this idea. Although current generations may die to the process of natural selection, future generations stand to benefit greatly from their sacrifice. This evolutionary process persists in all areas of the world, from business transactions to biological reactions.
Applications in Economics
People looking to make sense of the business world, take models from nature, and it makes sense because is business not a natural process and byproduct of humans? Is our behavior not natural in the habitat of the world we’ve built?
“What holds for organisms is valid for working within the construct of society and attaining success. It’s crucial to maintain a pace comparative with others in your industry, and accelerating one’s growth might yield better outcomes.”
Most certainly, we must examine the micros which when expanded mirror the macros, life is cycles and patterns. The patterns that pertain to the success of all life on earth will carry over to success in business and wealth.
Consider the forces at play in your world. Develop a better relationship with what would be considered the minimum effort required to keep pace in several places you have previously taken for granted. Utilize the exercise to identify gaps and opportunities. Expand your knowledge to make connections and discern new ways to excel.
Can you be the Red Queen Effect of your industry? Can the theories which have kept humankind an apex species translate to business in the 21st century? Hopefully so, as that would be best for all of us.
Applications to Education
For most people in this world, education is the make-or-break element that determines one’s career path, social standing, and income. Just like nature itself, it is a competitive gauntlet filled with trials and tribulations, challenges and obstacles that not only must be passed but passed with flying colors in many cases.
One could equate the harsh and unforgiving Savannahs of Africa to the modern-day classroom. In this metaphor, the animal nature and prey and predator relation would be comparable to you and your list of assignments. Each assignment is ready to swallow you whole and spit you out of the system if you don’t react accordingly.
Like the gazelle and lion in an eternal dance for survival, you tango with assignments and expectations, tests and papers. You must master survival in the classroom like the gazelle masters the savannah.
Those gazelles who can navigate their station will see a future, but those who underestimate their circumstances will not be shown that courtesy. The system of education is its own ecosystem and it aims to keep its inhabitants sharp. It readies them for an even harsher reality.
In school success is survival, but what separates a successful C student from the successful A+ student?
The A+ student shows an eagerness to adapt and succeed, it’s this eagerness, discipline and preparation which makes the student a red queen. He will not finish in the middle of the herd but at the very front, untouchable from looming predators. The red queen of the classroom will be better equipped to thrive in university and if his traits extrapolate with time then ideally they would be unstoppable after graduation.
A prize ready to face beasts and predators of a different world.