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The “Adaptability” Advantage

Updated: Apr 3

Recently, I was speaking to a business leader on how they see their organization changing post the pandemic. “We need to be more adaptable” if we are to thrive going forward came the reply.

I got very curious and delved a bit deeper. Sounds very apt, but what does that mean to individuals, leaders and to your overall organization?

“We have to be flexible and open to do things differently as well as do new things”. Sounds very exciting but what has to change to make that happen?

“We need people to be open to new roles, learn new skills and collaborate more” was the response. Perfect, I said. What about the organizational enablement to support the change?

“We need to still figure that out”.

Can you help?

Change thrives when the organizational eco-system supports it, else it just becomes an intent that lacks the drive to make it stick.

Our experience shows that enhancing the “Adaptability Quotient” of an organization requires a holistic perspective covering the following key areas of focus:

  1. Attitudes

  2. Structures

  3. Experiences

Attitudes: Change starts right at the top. Leaders shape and drive the behaviors & mindsets of the individuals and teams within an organization. Adaptability calls for ‘flexibility’ and ‘openness’ and that comes through experimentation and risk taking.

Key areas of focus include:

  • Readiness of leaders to be open to change themselves first

  • Fine-tune the performance & recognition models to be adaptable to cater for experimentation and include tolerance for failure

  • Provide a clear direction and sense of purpose that will enable the employees to align themselves with the organization

The key to success in enhancing the Adaptability quotient of organizations is driven by the attitudes and the readiness of leadership to lead from the front and embrace adaptability

Structures: Organizations provide ‘clarity’ and ‘direction’ on how individuals and teams function to deliver in accordance to their roles & responsibilities. Adaptability calls for making the ‘organizational structures’ as well as the ‘organizational hierarchy’ more malleable and supple.

Some key questions to assess organizational readiness to Adaptability include:

  • Will there be a perception of ‘loss of control’ or ‘dilution of authority’ within the management team?

  • Are there appropriate levels of Accountability & Ownership amongst employees to empower them to operate in a flexible manner?

  • Has the organization built sufficient self-management capabilities to enable working in autonomous teams?

Improving the Adaptability Quotient calls for enhancing the levels of Empowerment, Accountability & Ownership across individuals & teams to operate as self-managed, autonomous teams.

Experiences: The mindsets, beliefs and purpose of employees are shaped and aligned by the organizational responses to their approaches & intent towards work. Adaptability calls for being comfortable with certain levels of ambiguity and flux as well as being keen and open to constantly learning new things.

Some of the key enablers that drive Adaptability include:

  • A learning & coaching model that is designed to hand-hold the employees to gain and apply the growth mindset skills & competencies (as it involves an element of unlearning)

  • Including the employees and making them part of the performance & recognition model design process. Genuine inclusiveness will ensure better buy-in and alignment of purpose.

  • Ensuring psychological safety of employees wherein risk taking and experimentation are encouraged and not looked down upon

Making the employees a part of the overall change experience will not only facilitate getting their buy-in but also engender a growth mindset that drives them to taking on new roles & challenges

To be adaptive requires leadership openness to change, organizational readiness to encourage & support self-managed teams and a mindset that encourages risk taking and has a higher tolerance for failure.

The pandemic has not only highlighted but also exacerbated the need to increase the

Adaptability Quotient of organizations.

Time to future proof your organization!!


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