Posted by Adaptable Leadership - Building Leaders for Changing Times on 11/10/2008

In Good to Great by Jim Collins, the author says:

"Enduring great companies preserve their core values and purpose while their business strategies and operating practices endlessly adapt to a changing world. This is the magical combination of 'preserve the core and stimulate progress.'"
The key to building an adaptable company is having leaders that recognize the purpose and values of the business don't change.  However, the strategies that are implemented to accomplish the company's purposes are very fluid and flexible.  

I heard this principle described best by Mark Driscoll when he explained that we hold our purpose in one hand and our strategies in another.  Our business purposes and our strategies are two distinct entities that should be held separately, not in one hand. There are three types of businesses that emerge based on how they treat their purpose and strategies:
  1. Adaptable Companies close the hand with the purpose and leave open the hand with the strategies.  They will not compromise their values and business purposes but they are very open and flexible to implement strategies that will work for this day and time. 
  2. Dying Companies will hold both hands closed.  They understand what their purpose is but they do not see the need to adapt to changing times so that they can accomplish this purpose.  
  3. Directionless Companies will hold both hands open. They are not sure what their real business purpose is and they are constantly shifting their strategies.
Adaptable companies are committed to their purpose but willing to change their strategies to continue to meet their customer's needs. Our values and business purpose should be held closed while we open our minds to new ideas and strategies for success.

Posted by Adaptable Leadership - Building Leaders for Changing Times on 11/03/2008

Today's corporate leadership training courses focus too much on teaching leaders what to think rather than how to think.  Stephen Zacarro, a noted psychologist at George Mason University, says that most leadership training classes focus on developing routine expertise.  This traditional leadership training methodology teaches leaders highly proceduralized skills that are not transferable when problems become non-routine, novel and ill-defined.  

To train leaders to be adaptable we must focus on teaching them how to think. Adaptable leaders are comfortable operating in a complex environment when solutions to problems are not clear. Training for leadership adaptability requires leaders to be put into a wide variety of leadership challenges and asked to come up with creative and manageable solutions to the problems. Adaptable leaders thrive in uncertainty and are comfortable learning as they go.  Traditional leadership training will hinder adaptability when problems are complex and solutions are not clear.