Adaptability: The new competitive advantage
Have you ever had an “aha” moment, when everything suddenly seemed so crystal clear?
It happened to me in 1975 in a course at the University of Cincinnati. I suddenly realized how to explain to others what I already believed: that creativity is an essential part of organizational life and not just a “once in a while” extra activity.
I was exposed to Dr Paul Mott’s research, which found that the most effective organizations in any industry displayed three common characteristics:
• Flexibility: Reacting quickly to unexpected turns of events
• Efficiency: Maintaining routines, well-structured procedures to deliver products and services with high quantity, high quality and low cost
• Adaptability: Proactively anticipating new opportunities, problems, trends, technologies, methods for new products, services and procedures ahead of the game.
Does this sound familiar? Adaptability actually is identical to the Simplexity creative problem solving process: finding and defining new problems, solving them, and implementing new solutions.
Many organizations struggle to stay alive because efficiency is the only game they know. They find themselves at a dead end. Their products become commodities. Customers demand price concessions, knowing that they can always turn to Asia where things can be made more cheaply but just as well. Organizations often forget that adaptability can offer a way out. And there is a process for how to do it.
This week’s Minsight:
How might we help leaders integrate adaptability into standard organizational life for sustained competitive advantage? Hint: The process of creative problem solving is a good place to start.