Eight Trends Toward Adaptive Organizations

Eight Trends Toward Adaptive Organizations

In order to survive and thrive in our fast-moving business environment, organizations are trending toward becoming more adaptable. In this episode, David and Justin cover ground from economics, to biology, to theology, as well as a solid Forest Gump impersonation. They also discuss eight key trends that guide organizations toward adaptability. Here are the notes from the show:

  • “A business model is not the output of an analytical process, it’s the result of a generative design process.” <– kill the 50-page business plan and start experimenting
  • Leaders need a new mindset to become more adaptive. During the show, we explore 8 “couplets”:
    • Purpose
    • Mission
    • Core Values
    • External environment
    • Change management
    • Managers roles
    • Communication
    • Information sharing
  • What does all this lead to? Dave Gray, who wrote the Connected Company, quotes from evolutionary biologists, and talks about the Adaptive walk: “Evolutionary biologists use something called a fitness landscape to represent the journey of organisms and organizations make as they negotiate tradeoffs between conflicting constraints and co-evolve, trying to achieve an optimal fitness for the environment. The journey is called the adaptive walk.”
  • This adaptive walk toward fitness peaks is another way to visualize the experience curve and its diminishing return. When the environment is shifting around you (VUCA) peak efficiency is a liability because of all the tradeoffs you made on your way to efficient specialization. Moreover, complexity and change show no signs of abating or slowing down. Rather they are speeding up. Many companies will find that change in their competitive environment is accelerating faster than they can adapt. How do we then structure for that faster adaption?
  • He points to a connected organization, whose structure is like the human body: A connected company is a complex, adaptive system that operates more like an organism than a machine. To design connected companies, we must think of the company as a complex set of connections and potential connections: a distributed organism with brains, eyes, and ears everywhere, whether they are employers, partners, customers, or suppliers…most importantly, a connected company must be able to respond dynamically to change – to learn, adapt, in a VUCA world.

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