The Rapid Pace of Doing Business: Developing an Adaptive Work Culture
November 10, 2017
By: Stacey Kole
It’s been said that “the only thing constant is change.” In today’s fast-moving, ever-evolving workplace culture, the need for continual adaptation is the new normal. Enter new processes, new technologies, new tools, new skills — the list goes on and on. Surviving and even thriving in this environment requires the ability to adapt, both on the part of the individual and the company as a whole.
According to Hewlett Packard, an adaptive culture is “a way of operating where change is expected and adapting to those changes is smooth, routine and seamless.” Creating a culture that keeps up with the fast-paced reality that is the current marketplace cannot merely be anecdotal; it must be a deliberate shift in approach.
Here’s a look at four ways of thinking that can help to create an adaptive culture in your own enterprise:
Just as cubicles are increasingly being replaced by open work spaces, so should isolated thinking be replaced with collaborative thinking? Combine resources, talent and experience to generate a forward, outside-of-the-box mentality when it comes to tackling problems and pioneering new services, programs and policies. Practicing and encouraging collaboration also leads to greater organizational health, as an increased sense of engagement directly impacts productivity. However, according to Gallup’s 2017 “State of the American Workplace” report, only 33 percent of American workers are engaged at work, love their jobs and try to make their company better every day.
The more a business seeks information — both internally and externally — the more equipped it will be to rapidly adapt. Industry experts, customers, colleagues and even competitors all offer insights into making a better mousetrap, so ongoing networking is key. This type of continual education can happen in both formal and informal settings. Beyond casual networking, management should encourage employee involvement in professional networks or industry associations as a means to get training and gain valuable support and advice from mentors and peers alike.
Promote Problem Solving
The Boston Consulting Group conducted an analysis of innovative companies the likes of Apple, Samsung and Google, along with additional corporate trailblazers. They concluded that innovation is a system, calling it “a mixture of insight and creativity, as well as a disciplined process that consistently promotes progress.” Truly adaptive workplace cultures are able to promote progress by emphasizing initiative along with quick thinking and the ability to discern prime opportunities. Such innovators take in stimuli, process it quickly and come up with more than one solution to any given problem.
To keep up with the ever-quickening rate of doing business, an adaptive culture depends on a willingness to take risks and experiment with new ideas, partnerships and business models as a whole. Traditional approaches — think conservative, cautious and careful — don't necessarily produce a culture of adaptability. Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Charles A. O’Reilly notes “managers and systems reward behaviors that while successful in the short term don’t encourage the experimentation that’s needed for long-term success.” In contrast, when experimental thinking is encouraged without fear of negative repercussions, this can lead to the kind of solution-driven, innovative outcomes that are necessary for flourishing.
All of this is not to say that there isn't a place for traditional approaches. They simply must not be louder than those voices that are quick to innovate and adapt to the need of the moment — and ultimately, the long term.
About the Author
Stacey Kole is a principal director at Branded, a personal and small business branding agency. A former magazine editor and published author, she currently contributes to the online editions of several publications. She is the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization, working to build scholarship funds for young women in the state of Arizona.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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