Learning to Adapt

Friday, March 12 2021

In business, if we are not moving forward, we are going backward: there is no status quo. Change is constant, and only when it is undertaken intentionally and correctly, will it help to secure a better future for the organization and its people.

Leading experts in the field agree that no strategy is forever. Marshall Goldsmith, the world-famous coach to high-achieving CEOs says, “what got you here, won’t get you there.” Blue Ocean Strategy, celebrated for its organizational wisdom posits that paradigm-shifting strategies do not remain differentiated forever because eventually someone comes along and displaces them with a better idea. Thus smart companies must shift their thinking, and in so doing, create a business that looks and acts differently.

Unfortunately, in the go-forward model not everyone may be a fit. You may need to rebuild your team. However, because employee churn is costly the question becomes: How do we get better at building a strong and adaptable team that can thrive on change? It costs an organization nothing to build adaptability as an important trait in its corporate coaching culture. It does require commitment.

Creating a culture where change is expected and encouraged increases opportunities for innovation and insulates us from the fallout of resistance to change and subsequent employee attrition.

What should we, as leaders, do to encourage this?

  • Accept the need to make changes. It’s hard to let go of old ideas but sometimes they just stop working.
  • Measure what’s important. Once you’ve set a course, monitor it closely and be willing to shift as required.
  • Ask for feedback and accept it with openness. It’s not personal; it’s designed to make the organization stronger.

As the leadership guru Jim Collins says, “first who, then what?” Recognize that as strategy shifts, organizational needs shift, which may impact who is best suited, culturally and technically, to fill the ‘seats on the bus.’  It is as important to strategy as the plan itself.  If you are not sure you have the ‘who’ figured out, we have employment engagement surveys that can help. Good luck with your people planning.