Do you work in a well-established organisation? Does it need to be more adaptive? Do strategic changes feel harder than they should? If you answered 'yes' then you are in the majority. 88 per cent of CEOs acknowledge their organisations need to be more adaptive, yet as few as 9 per cent of organisations describe themselves as being excellent at strategic change.
So, what's the problem? Some argue it comes down to leadership complacency, others say what's needed is greater customer-centricity or innovation. However, these are only part of a more fundamental issue which can be captured in just two words - Adaptive Intelligence.
Within an organisation, Adaptive Intelligence is like the starter-motor for adaptive capability. While it doesn't make the organisation adaptive on its own, it does determine whether the right approach is adopted and with it, the chances of success.
When an organisation has low Adaptive Intelligence, there is no drive to trigger the change, no language to talk about and measure it and no insights to determine where to focus or what to do next. As a consequence, becoming adaptive feels like a three-legged-race with a thousand people. No one knows which leg to put first and it quickly becomes all too hard.
To demonstrate the impact of Adaptive Intelligence and its effects, take the five attributes described above and apply them to your organisation. Scoring each attribute out of 10, how would your organisation rate?
If you gave it low scores, the chances are your organisation is not as adaptive as it needs to be. If you rated it highly across all five attributes, the opposite is likely to be the case.
So, if your organisation has low Adaptive Intelligence where has it gone and, importantly, how do you get it back?
When Dodos migrated to the island of Mauritius, they found a tropical paradise, rich in accessible food sources and free of natural predators. Under these circumstances, large wings were a cumbersome inconvenience and so over time, the Dodo devolved its ability to fly. The same thing happens to many organisations when they grow. The capabilities required for operational scale supersede and devolve adaptive capabilities. When functional structures are subsequently created, Adaptive Intelligence becomes fragmented and is eventually lost. So, how do you bring it back?
Kate Christiansen is the Melbourne-based business author of 'The Thrive Cycle: Unlock The Adaptive Organisation Within'
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