Adaptive thinking is vital in difficult times when you are surrounded by change. Things change, and it is impossible to stand still. Those who don’t move forward are pulled backward. Adapt or die.
This article will discuss adaptive thinking in the business milieu and ways to apply and develop it.
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What is Adaptive Thinking
Adaptive thinking is the ability to evaluate the facts and circumstances at hand and change your behavior to thrive in those circumstances. This type of thinking can also be defined as the ability to seize the moment, learn a lesson from failure, and change course to move forward. You could even say it is a key skill for leaders. It allows you to make good decisions and deal with complex problems.
Adaptive thinking has four components:
- The ability to anticipate likely future needs, trends, and opportunities.
- The ability to articulate those needs so that your team understands them.
- Adaptability to new conditions leading to constant learning and adjusting one’s actions.
- Transparency in decision-making and openness to feedback.
Benefits of Adaptive Thinking
Nothing lasts forever. Times change, and companies change with them. To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to be able to adapt. This skill is especially valuable during a crisis when circumstances are in a state of flux, information is scarce, and you need to react quickly.
To make the right decision in difficult times, you need the ability to “step back” from your current circumstances and look at everything from a distance. This technique helps create emotional distance between you and the situation and understand what is happening outside your normal field of vision.
The problem is that it often seems impossible to create this distance in a crisis. When you face new difficulties every day, you become completely immersed in overcoming them, and you see nothing else as a result. But it is just then that it is especially important to tear yourself away from old approaches and look for new ways.
Developing Adapting Thinking
What follows is a broad outline of several rules of developing adaptive thinking.
Be both a participant and an observer
Leadership is the art of improvisation. Periodically stop and look around. Observe and listen. If you get too caught up in your past strategies, you’ll miss the chance to innovate.
Constantly evaluate the results of your actions
This will allow you to adjust your steps if necessary, which is the basis of adaptive thinking. For example, during the coronavirus pandemic, many people have switched to telecommuting, so work conditions need to be changed accordingly. In such a situation, it is more important than ever a) to monitor how people respond to new work conditions and b) to readjust based on the observation results.
In difficult times, even to a greater extent than usual, many people want to shift the responsibility to someone else in their company. That often happens in responsibility-laden departments, say among accountants eager to have their colleagues deal with a potentially dangerous or just irritating matter — for example when they need to teach a new employee how to file taxes with your last paystub and countless other things. Do not give in to this desire and deal with your responsibility. Courage and patience are among traits you need to adapt.
Admit your mistakes and learn from them
You will make mistakes anyway as you look for new ways to develop. This is no reason to close yourself off from experience and other people. Remind yourself of this. Be open, answer questions, admit you’re wrong, ask for forgiveness — none of these are indicators of weakness. They are tools to help you become a better person.
Build trust within the team
Openly discuss, with team members, which of your chosen methods work and which don’t. This is the secret to successful collaboration and, at the same time, will help you identify ways to solve complex problems. If you’re afraid to discuss vital matters openly, this is a symptom of problems within your team.
By listening to others’ perspectives and paying attention to local and global circumstances, you can create the distance you need to see the situation from the outside. This, in turn, helps you adapt. To increase your chances of success, you need to be able to adapt always and everywhere.