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9 "Self-Evident" Foolish Truths, No. 2: The Best Businesses Can Evolve

By Motley Fool Staff - Oct 30, 2017 at 6:58PM

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Change is hard, but the companies that are willing to constantly adjust are the ones that can keep growing long term.

This week is the 120th Rule Breakers podcast, and as Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner looked back, he realized he's covered a whole lot of subjects in those shows. More to the point, with all those episodes behind him, there are some areas he may not have covered in detail in a while. So he's getting back to basics with a set of ideas he thinks any Foolish investor ought to take for granted -- because he's not taking it for granted that everyone knows them.

In this segment, he discusses the power of optionality, or when a company has multiple possible routes into a successful future.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Oct. 11, 2017.

David Gardner: No. 2: I'll just call it by the watchword we often use which is "optionality." Principle No. 2 is basically that the best businesses are able to evolve. Why does that matter? Well, just like in biological evolution, changes in external circumstances happen and your organization needs to both be aware of those things and be adjusting itself to be relevant, and or successful, and or just survive into the next era by evolving. And one of the best ways that innovative companies manage to do this is often they have a second or third trick, and we call that, again, optionality. It means you have multiple possible futures.

The strongest business of our time, I think, is probably Alphabet (GOOG -3.47%) (GOOGL -3.30%). Looking across all of Alphabet's different businesses starting with Google -- and then looking across the globe and seeing all the different places that it is doing its Googly things -- that is incredibly strong and the optionality, there, is enviable. I hold that up even over something like Amazon or Apple, because I just believe that Alphabet is operating across more fronts and doing more interesting stuff than any other company in the world.

Now, very few organizations are going to be like that, and very few stocks that you and I will pick have that kind of resilience. As long as you understand the concept that just like in biological evolution it's going to be really important when external circumstances change -- the Ice Age hits -- it's going to be really important for companies to recognize that it's getting cold, let's say, and they need to stop doing this and start doing this other thing.

And the ones that can actually do that -- that have the leadership, that have the vision, that have the strength to actually be able to implement those changes [and permission from the markets, and customers, and partners to evolve] -- those are the companies that you and I want to own.

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