The Adaptive Challenge: A 3-Step Process

Recently, I wrote about how to identify what type of organization you belong to in order to better understand how you should use your position as a leader to react to adaptive challenges. If you haven’t been following my blog series about this topic, you can find the previous posts here.

This week, I will take you through the 3-step process outlined in Juan Carlos Eichholz’s book “Adaptive Capacity.” Once a challenge is identified, the way in which you react to it will determine whether you lead your organization into a new era of success and well-being or whether you steer the ship into the rocks. It is crucial that you understand the importance of each step and take the time to plan and complete each one, or you run the risk of ending up shipwrecked.

The first step in addressing an adaptive challenge is to take the time to understand it. When faced with a problem, our gut reaction is either to avoid it or to try to solve it right away. Because adaptive challenges tend to affect the fundamental values of an organization, it’s crucial that you understand the problem as thoroughly as possible before you act in order to avoid isolating the very people you need to mobilize.

The second step is the deployment stage. This is where you enact the changes that need to take place in order to adapt. Eichholz suggests that you first develop a narrative that “explains why this change is necessary and how it touches every person within the organization, connecting to people’s values and emotions.” By creating a narrative, you give people something to refer back to whenever they become unsure as well as a compelling reason to change. The deployment stage is also a great time to enlist the help of an executive coach. A coach can help you to effectively communicate with your people to get them on board and working together toward change.

The final stage is sustainability. Eichholz offers the analogy of going on a weight loss plan; just because you’ve reached your weight goal doesn’t mean that you go back to behaving like you did before. If you did that, you’d find yourself back at square one in no time at all. Instead, you have to make a commitment to maintaining an entirely different lifestyle, one that includes good nutrition and regular exercise.

Is your organization currently navigating the process of making adaptive changes? Are you feeling unsure about the phase you’re in? If so, please feel free to reach out to me. You can contact me via my website, LinkedIn or Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you!

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