07 Jul 2011  What Do YOU Think?

So We Adapt. What’s the Downside?

Summing Up Jim Heskett's readers ponder the question of whether the virtues of adaptability in a chaotic world undermine an organization's ability to commit.

 

Summing Up

Adaptability and commitment are complementary concepts, appropriate in different situations, over different time periods, and in response to different challenges. That's the general sense that one gets in reading over the responses to this month's column.

Several argued that, up to a point, adaptability is a strength. Ravindra Edirisooriya asserted that "Adaptability is good in the short term since it will allow the use of existing labor, materials, machinery and technology and it is not disruptive. However, there is a limit to adaptability (if it precludes longer-term investment, for example)." As C. J. Cullinane put it, "we have to be adaptable and flexible but … Too much adaptability can lead to … lack of direction…" RT said that there is "No shame in revising ideas—publicly and to ourselves."

There are times when commitment more clearly takes precedence over adaptability. Tom Dolembo pointed out that "Lincoln 'triangulated' … But he never waivered on the issue of union." Yadeed Lobo stated that adaptability may not be the best approach in dealing with "inappropriate behavior" or harassment at work. David Physick commented that "Where I believe we need more than ever to be strident and more fixed is in our intolerance of unacceptable behavior by our leaders."

Both commitment and adaptability have their place. Jeffrey Cufaude reminded us that Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, as a result of the research leading to their book, Built to Last, advised us to "Preserve the core but stimulate progress." Phil Clark argued that commitment, embodied for him in habit, "gives us time to pay attention and think about what is happening around us. It allows us the chance to adapt to the changing world."

Santhanam Krishnan commented on the ultimate complementarity between the two concepts this way: "Commitment to remain adaptable to changing situations is the formula for survival…" Lynne Levesque argued that organizations have to commit to a strong sense of purpose "and be willing to test, experiment, create and innovate along the way and to also be willing to reexamine that purpose frequently enough to be sure it is still relevant." As she put it, "It really is all about balance!"

This suggests yet another tension in leadership, a kind of tightrope walk like so many perilous paths that leaders today have to negotiate daily. Do they have to ask themselves constantly when to adapt and when to commit? Is that one of the basic issues of leadership? What do you think?

Original Article

Adaptability is a current byword in a world filled with uncertainty at all levels, including that of the individual. We adapt by listening to and heeding customers. We adapt by delegating authority, often to teams operating at the lowest levels of the organization. We adapt by tracking, responding to, and even encouraging the development of disruptive technologies. Now we have a guide to the subject, appropriately titled Adapt, written by Tim Harford. Its subtitle is Why Success Always Starts with Failure, immediately raising my suspicions about any assertion that contains the word "always."

Harford's thesis is that in an increasingly complex world where many things are interconnected, it is harder and harder to explain why things, including success, happen. He asks why success in fact is no insurance against subsequent failure, as all writers about individual companies and their managers at the peak of their performances have discovered. He concludes that evidence "implies that effective planning is rare in the modern economy," that "whether we like it or not, trial and error is a tremendously powerful process for solving problems in a complex world, while expert leadership is not," and sets out to explore why this is the case.

The prescription appears simple: "First, seek out new ideas and try new things; second, when trying something new, do it on a scale where failure is survivable; third, seek out feedback and learn from your mistakes as you go along." As Ken Iverson, the legendary former CEO of Nucor Steel put it, "if something's worth doing, it's worth doing wrong… Get on with it and see if it works." We are often admonished to "try a lot of things and keep what works."

But Harford points out that this is easier said than done. Those who adapt are not always viewed favorably. If they were, we would value and honor "flip-floppers." The acceptable answer to the question, "Who's in charge around here?" is rarely someone other than the CEO, and it influences a CEO's tendency to talk when he should be listening. To say that the strategy of a so-called adaptive corporation such as Google is to have no corporate strategy is a bit unsettling. Further, Harford points to evidence that many of us have a hard time distinguishing between success and failure. We often deny failure, or we identify failure then chase our losses in an effort to make them back, or we convince ourselves that there isn't much to be learned from a mistake because the mistake doesn't matter. He prescribes such things as the utilization of spaces like universities in which to experiment safely, or a personal critic or "validation squad" to provide objective comment on our actions.

With so much advocacy for flexibility and adaptability, is it time for a contrarian view? In a complex and confusing world, aren't those who appear to have the answers the ones we follow, for better or worse? Are we really at a tipping point of complexity in our world that it requires following only those willing to adapt? Should someone write yet another book, perhaps with a title like Commit: Why Success Always Requires Continued Commitment to Good Ideas? What's the downside of "adapt"? What do you think?

Reference:

Tim Harford, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011)

Comments

    • Amonymous

    There are some excellent notes on Tim Harford's book Adapt.

     
     
     
    • RT
    • engineer

    We really need to develop the courage to accept that we are adapters and that it is good and a sign of evolution. Gandhi used to say that if you find me taking two different positions on the same issue then pick the more recent one to reflect what I think. No shame in revising ideas - publicly and to ourselves.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    A welcome note of caution not to view this as a panacea. A minor failure in the subtitle may presage the eventual success of Harford's book, though it doesn't necessarily follow.

    While I'm highly impressed by the adaptive, evolutionary selection approach and approach to failure survival it's clearly still essential for innovators to plan their attempts with best judgement and expertise while being aware of the limitations of human judgements.

    Blind experimentation with no rationale is wasteful, but planned experiments in a plausible solution space can be valuable means of optimization in diverse fields from engineering (e.g. Design Of Experiment) through marketing & advertising to public policy. Sometimes serendipitous discoveries are made along the way during failed projects.

    Pragmatism must be better than dogmatism (and that's a point of dogmatic principle for me!) except in those rare non-complex systems where effects of effects don't come into play.

    It is also necessary to remember that a successful solution may become suboptimal as the environment changes over time and may itself be replaced. Harford's example of Woolworth's springs to mind and Clayton Christensen's disruptive innovations are coming along ever sooner these days.

    Businesses find it hard to own small autonomous divisions that are trying to disrupt the main profit center of their parent, so one can't expect Kodak or Polaroid to become the winners in digital photography, and most shareholders would be upset if they did what's necessary to lead the change.

    Some of the successful disrupters build on the best ideas of many others rather than experiment from scratch, and that's often judicious (even though we're programmed to see copying as plagiarism rather than a 'tribute act')

    There are small proportions of businesses that are relatively secure and predictable with barriers to competition that should last decades. Certain niche markets or local monopolies can be amenable to smart top-down management, but these aren't most businesses (which is why the likes of Warren Buffett put most of the economy in the pile labelled 'too hard to value' and move on to the next thing). The Adapt approach could help optimize in areas where Buffett fears to tread.

     
     
     
    • Ravindra Edirisooriya
    • Senior Accounting and Finance Major, Missouri Southern State University

    Adaptability is one outcome of a set of outcomes any individual /business /government (country) can take to maximize its potential /profits /benefits to the people in the free market economy. The other out comes in the set are innovation and decadence (no room to maintain status quo). Adaptability is good in the short term since it will allow the use of existing labor, materials, machinery and technology and it is not disruptive. However, there is a limit to adaptability. If no investments in innovative machinery, technologies, infrastructure and education are made, decadence will set in and the good times will be over for the individual /business /government (country).

    Today, the last shuttle mission was launched. What is there to replace it? What are our goals for the future? When are we going to achieve them? Have we made the investments? Recently, a Republican Senator was arguing for tax cuts to grow the economy. He argued tax cuts, business friendly health care reform and financial regulations will make the businesses invest the piles of cash they are sitting on and it will grow the economy and create the jobs that we need so desperately. Senator assumed that businesses had a pool of projects that businesses are willing to invest with attractive ROIs but uncertainty in the markets is holding the them back. How sound is this assumption or is it political rhetoric? You make the call. Also, a Texas Republican Senator recently said people in his district wants jobs and cutting taxes will bring more investment and therefore more jobs. Is it a sound assumption? Economy has its up swings and down swings (tax cuts or no tax cuts) and jobs will increase along with the growth of the economy when we could manufacture /design /build something better than the rest of the world. Being the party of tax cuts, if republicans will not adapt and continue tax cuts ad infinitum, it will reduce the investments in future disruptive innovations, infrastructure and education. Most businesses do not undertake R&D projects due to uncertain ROI. Also, if most of the federal budget is spent on caring for the seniors and paying social security, what is left for future investments? Do the seniors not care about their grandkids anymore?

     
     
     
    • CJ Cullinane

    The comment (quote) that this concept made me remember was a statement by Harold Geneen a former CEO of ITT (1959 to 1977). He said "If it's not broke, break it". What I believe we have to look at is not so much adapting to a situation that 'happens' to us as managers but to pick what we need to improve and then make it work by adapting to the challenge.

    To make it work yes we have to be adaptable and flexible but I do not believe we should adapt to everything that happens. Sometimes we may be able to pick our battles but sometimes we have to remain firm and hold a steady course.

    Too much adaptability can lead to erosion and lack of direction but not enough can lead to extinction in my opinion. Thank you for a great question!

    Charlie

     
     
     
    • Ajay Kumar Gupta
    • Doctoral Researcher and Faculty(ITM), Tata Instituteof Social Sciences, Mumbai,India

    Adaptability and commitment are two value poles. One makes you to compromise, other makes you to firm. Willing to adapt a situation, person or culture generally compels you to compromise with your values. Adaptability and commitment both can be need but gravity of retention of first is weaker than the later. In terms of reliability, later have greater value. I think adaptability and commitment can be measured by expecting consequences. When we adapt to new culture, practices or people, we anticipate future outcome. Similarly, when people commit to something, they also know why they are committed. Either there is a value match, interest match or there is possibility that person does not have other option, so looking committed can be a better strategy. In either case, why we adapt and commit is decided by our interest, intention and option. However one is "external driven" and other is "self driven". Adaptability always requires you to follow the boundary created by others. You are not supposed to question it. Whereas when you are committed, the feeling comes from within, and generally values match drives commitment. Adaptability is a compromising state, where we adjust ourselves as per need created by others. I believe when adaptability leads to sustainability, innovation and growth then it is good otherwise not. Similarly when commitment leads to value reinforcement, happiness, innovation and growth, then it should be accepted. Adaptability has more of a dark side than bright side. When people join their dream companies or meet successful people, they usually attempt to adapt them. They believe and create positive perception that adapting blindly to those practices, habits, and culture may lead to greater success to them, and that is the point where they make all compromise. If we look closely the recent Institutional failure around the world, it seems that they are result of adaptability. People continued adapting to culture, people, and practices, and actually nobody questioned believing that everything is fine and successful. Commitment is a challenge. Commitment is your belief about what you think. Committed people are loyal and achieve their goal. They have strong foundation based on trust, authenticity and accountability. Had committed people remain in corporations that failed, perhaps corporations would not have failed.

     
     
     
    • Lynne C. Levesque
    • Consultant

    Hi, Professor Heskett and responders!

    I totally agree with Charlie Cullinane. You asked a great question! It really is all about balance! Too much adaptability can lead to lack of direction and a lot of wasted energy and resources. Too little can definitely lead to extinction. That's why it is critical to find the right balance between the two. Not easy! I propose that organizations and individuals need to have a strong sense of purpose, to know the general direction that they are heading in AND be willing to test, experiment, create and innovate along the way AND to also be willing to reexamine that purpose frequently enough to be sure it is still relevant. Tough to do, but necessary!

    Thanks for raising the question! There is so much focus on adaptability and flexibility and agility: we need to be careful and recognize that there are some downsides that do need to be managed!

    Sincerely, Lynne C. Levesque, Ed.D. www.breakthroughcreativity.com

     
     
     
    • Stephen Basikoti

    We should not adapt simply for the sake of being adaptable. There should be compelling reasons for any adapting. Adapting simply for being adaptable is like chasing a butterfly. The initial novelty is uplifting, however, it is not sustainable. Our goals, just as a butterfly, would be elusive, only achievable by pure chance.

    We must also remember that resources-particularly time-are finite and limited. We cannot waste them in blind attempts.

     
     
     
    • Jeffrey Cufaude
    • Facilitator, Idea Architects

    Didn't Jim Collins and Jerry Porras address this in Built to last somewhat? Preserve the core, but stimulate progress.

    Commit to your core values and purpose (who you are), but always adapt your products, services, organization structure, and processes (what you do and how you do it)?

     
     
     
    • David Fitzgerald
    • VP & Gen. Mgr., XL Technology, LLC

    Great question and insightful comments so far....

    Adaptability and commitment are not mutually exclusive business concepts. Perhaps one could say that adaptability is more critical for strategic purposes and that commitment is paramount for tactical purposes.

    Great organizations can adapt their business strategy to changing business environments, greater organizations execute (via commitment & focus) on those strategies once they're set.

     
     
     
    • Ravi Vir
    • Oneida Comprehensive Health Medical Director, Oneida Comprehensive Health

    Adaptability and committment are not necessarily polar extremes. Committment is what we stand for and being faithful to those beliefs. Commitment to learning and continuous improvement would help us in improving behaviors and processes that constitute our core values that we are committed to.

     
     
     
    • Phil Clark
    • Clark & Associates

    The very discussion on adaptability belies the fact that we are naturally creatures of habit. We like certain things, eat certain things, watch certain things, work nearly the same way, and likely go to work the same way nearly every day. Habits are the "mental macros" of the brain that automates much of what we do every day. That in turn gives us time to pay attention and think about what is happening around us. It allows us the chance to adapt to the changing world. Unfortunately, we waste this precious ability by craming life, especially at work, full of being busy. We do not take the time to pay attention, think, and observer wisely the world around us so we can adapt and change. When someone tries to stop and really think about a project or improving the job...the managers gripe that you are wasting time and "not focused" on your job. We are too busy being busy. A wise business leader one time told me that, "Managers need a quiet time to think and creative. Few organizations will allow that. That is why they ultimately fail or get into trouble." You can send all your managers and leaders to classes on creativity and change, but if you do not allow them the time to think...you wasted your money! You have to pay attention to adapt. What do you see differently every day to prepare you for the future?

     
     
     
    • Kapil Kumar Sopory
    • Company Secretary, SMEC(India) Private Ltd

    A very thought provoking research but not in relation to something we could answer by agreeing out and out. Right from childhood we adapt to what goes on around us, our close family and external environment. Our parents, teachers and others shower advices and lessons which we 'blindly' follow without questioning the rationale...in fact, we are too immature at that stage to gauge what exactly should be in our prescribed to-do/not-to-do list prepared by those who consider themselves to be much more knowing and matured. They too followed instructions in their life mechanically and carried on passively as if all what was told was the best line for adaption. In essence, their thinking faculty was made to rust but they felt any questioning would mean they were rebelling. They were thereby caught in a mad rat race. Today's world - professional/corporate/business in particular- is in a state of flux where most is not definite. What we feel is ok today may not be so tomorrow. There is uncertainty of certainty and one gets bewildered to observe that he has to willy-nilly change his decisions from time to time. So, what to adapt? Commitment to our values, mission and goals is important and for this we must adapt good practices from wherever these get sourced to us. This is necessary for in the process of listenining to the dictates of others we must not adapt what is bad. This be resisted at all costs.

     
     
     
    • Jabir Koya
    • Sr. Manager - PMO, ING Life India

    I think the book could have been better titled, "Adapt: Why You Must Learn to See Success After Failure". The current title for sure seems to be misleading as success cannot "always" start with failure. I must confess that I haven't read the book but will also say candidly that the current title would never generate the interest in me to read this book.

    I also agree with Mr. James Heskett when he says that a more complex and confusing world actually presents the need to be more sure of what one is doing and getting in to rather than totally relying on trial and error experiences.

     
     
     
    • Jay Somasundaram
    • Systems Analys\

    'raising my suspicions about any assertion that contains the word "always." '. That phrase really sums it up. If we take the argument to the next level, Is it always only 'commitment' or 'adaptability'? How about 'luck' and 'competence'?

    At a conceptual level, consider a miner faced with hard rock. From a decision analysis perspective the question of whether to drill through or divert is be based on probabilities on how wide and thick the rock is. Competent miners know how to better estimate the pronbabilities and the respective costs

     
     
     
    • Tom Dolembo
    • Founder, NewNorth Institute

    Lincoln "triangulated", and tried to stay in the center of difficult opinion divisions. But he never waivered on the issue of union. Clinton had a version of it, and Obama seems to have adopted a centering strategy. However, the difference between waffling and leading is a core, unyielding belief. Ghandi did believe in his core that, "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." Without a driving, fundamental, energizing center, an executive is just another empty suit.

     
     
     
    • Pete DeLisi
    • President, Organizational Synergies

    What an interesting question, Dr. Heskett -- certainly desrving of more than a casual response! It makes me think of adaptations that aren't really needed, and are therefore, unsuccessful. My mind, for example, goes to the current interest in "cloud computing." Some of us remember "cloud computing" from decades ago. We did it in the 60s and 70s and eventually adapted away from it for a variety of reasons. Now, we "adapt" back to cloud computing -- having forgotten the lessons of the past.

    The other thought I have is that adaptation by definition is a move toward something, but away from something else. there are some, for example, that think because of our times, strategic planning is no longer of any value. My response is that if we don't have a strategy, what do we adapt away from? Do we then adapt away from adaptations, or do we need something more quasi-absolute, such as a strategic direction?

     
     
     
    • Yadeed Lobo

    I guess a balance is essential and the context determines this. However, adaptability is something, which has its downsides. Ethical conundrums and value systems provide context.

    As an individual in a business organisation:

    I think of the Martha McCaskey case study. She was presented with two choices. Adapt to the way things were done and since everyone was indulging in inappropriate behaviour, do the same to fit in and rise up the corporate ladder.

    Or she could remain committed or reaffirm committment to her value system and move away or blow the whistle on the practices.

    So her value system provided her with the essential context she needed. Her committment to her values helped her choose.

    Her bosses posited the facade of commitment to excellent independent analysis but adapted their values to how much money was available to be had.

    So adaptability meant ethical conundrums for Martha, which she could not rationalise. Toeing the line(adapting) sometimes has unintended consequences even if they do not manifest themselves immediately.

    Ditto for someone who is being harassed at work or in other places. Adaptability has some dire downsides.

    As an individual in a political organisation:

    Flip flopping may not be the ideal answer in the political arena. John F Kennedy's book Profiles in Courage has some very good examples of what happens when you stay committed to doing the right thing. You could succeed (John Quincy Adams) or fail terribly in later life (Edward Ross).

    Committment to one's values requires courage even if it means going against the political organisation, which put you into power in the first place.

    Therefore, while the party adapts to the changing economic environment (big business, civil war etc), the conscience or ideology of the person in the context requires committment.

    A committed organisation:

    The Missionaries of Charity is a good example. The power of a strong committment on the part of the founder (Mother Theresa) has sustained the organisation. Other examples include the Catholic Church, the Indian freedom struggle, American Civil Rights movement. Not for profit movements or struggles are less susceptible to adaptability as the fundamental resolve is to progress change.

    For profits have continually morphed or adapted in the past few centuries as demographics have changed. The espousal of adaptability however is not apparent. Since a non-committal, adaptable leader could be seen to be untrustworthy. Followers tend to want to see stability in their leaders.

     
     
     
    • Yedendra Chouksey
    • Professor, International School of Business & Media, India

    Whether for an organization or an individual, there are four choices to progress: creation, adoption, adaption and rejection of status quo. Each failure offers an opportunity to chart a new course of action or new goal; or follow faithfully what the successful ones have done or advised; or carve out specific changes in the successful model to suit the situation. The option of rejection of what has worked well is meaningful only if it leads to creation of a new alternative. Which one of these will be appropriate will depend on the entity's personality, behavioral and cultural characteristics.

    The USA has been pioneering in creativity and Japan in adaptability. In the 1970s Japan adapted watchmaking techniques from the Swish and camera technology from Germany and beat them both in their fields of supremacy. Bench marking and role models are examples of adaption and adoption in organizational and personal lives. Since civilization is not static and progress implies movement from the present, commitment bordering on perpetuity would be suicidal. On the 0ther hand, submission to changes without evaluation would be equally disastrous. So, while creativity is the best, one should judge well before one decides to adopt, adapt or reject available alternatives; but should never yield to failure

     
     
     
    • Ravindra Edirisooriya
    • Senior Accounting and Finance Major, Missouri Southern State University

    An extended set of decision outcomes should be {short-term commitment (status quo, stable /unstable, how short?), adapt, reengineer, adopt, innovate (sea change), (copy /industrial /state) espionage, long-term commitment (unlikely in a dynamic environment, how long?), decadence (blind commitment, inaction, lack of vision, dogma, errors), convert, division, merger, disband (death /bankruptcy / "public protests"), abandon (give up /gut /failure, failed state), extinction (externally imposed)}

    Search your souls and search the world. Say no to the Speaker of the House who says "Keep your opinions to yourself" in our democracy.

     
     
     
    • Fernando das Neves Gomes

    Dear professor and followers,

    If you allow me i have just one consideration to make. As a business consultant and my self an entrepreneur, i think there is a thin line between failure and risk taken, we can learn from both we can leave with both.

    A failure can became an immediate success, even if not written as a plan or just if not, just as a way to get somewhere else, think about all teams in sports that don't run to win.

    If we are talking with top managers, or where business competences arrive, failure it's just administrative and wrong actions that need constant eradicating and resolution improvement, if not incompetence is taken place.

    As a strategic business action or investment, it's not a failure it's just a bad move where the goals at the plan are not achieved in a process of a global units and strategic actions that proceed reports and other movements, not achieving tasks it's a failure.

    So I don't agree with Tom Harford, failure can have a downside.

    Sincerely

     
     
     
    • Dan Hoch
    • Principal, Rocky View Schools

    I find it more than a little ironic that on the very same page that this question is posted, is also the book summary of "Five Discovery Skills that Distinguish Great Innovators." As a society, I think it is safe to say, that not only do we applaud innovation, but we desire it. One doesn't have to look too far or think too hard about the myriad of discoveries made that were preceded by countless failures. To be sure, failure can be bothersome at best and perhaps fatal at worst. But what then are the alternatives? As noted in the book summary, there are many "hoops" one jumps through to initiate great change, with notions of safeguards and restraint flowing through that skill set.

     
     
     
    • Dennis
    • Quality Lead, Enterprise Project

    We commit to what works and adapt to changing conditions (including the acquisition of additional knowledge, discretion and wisdom; resource allocations (including time) and our perceived comforts and discomforts).

     
     
     
    • David Physick
    • Consultant, Glowinkowski International

    Plato remarked "Necessity is the mother of invention", which philosophically suggests there must be adaptability. Looking around at what is happening in the world, we need to adapt in terms of Einstein's quote, " We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them", which reminds me of, was it, the Pennsylvania Horse Trap Company striving to make ever better buggies and ignoring the arrival of trains. The desire for innovation, paradigm shifts, 'tectonic change' is mis-guided because in terms of the distribution of thinking styles across the Big 5 trait of Openness it is normalised, so really big innovation is an outlier. W-Fi and the internet are adaptions of Marconi's radio innovation to stretch a point. The Economist in an analysis of the success of German business pointed out that "The main motor of Germany's growth, however, is the Mittelstand, a legion of mainly small and medium-sized firms, typically family-owned and highly specialised, that build products that dominate obscure branches of industry.... They have done this by excelling in areas that demand constant, incremental innovation." So adaption rather than wholesale change.
    Where I believe we need more than ever to be strident and more fixed is in our intolerance of unacceptable behaviour by leaders. We need leaders to act with real and genuine integrity and honesty. We need them to pursue an equitable approach so all stakeholders proser, which includes wider society and the environment.
    What we are seeing at the moment with News International (UK) and News Corp (US) represents the clearest example of what has become unnacceptable and we need to re-adapt back to decent and honorable practices. The same with banking, my old domain, where applying mathematical probabilities rather than sound credit risk management has been proven as a lousy outcome of adaptability.

     
     
     
    • Santhanam Krishnan
    • Saraswat Bank

    Adaptability is the premies on which the edifice of human civilzation grew (and still does) and has learnt to remain committed to that growth process! As is suggested, adaptability and commitment are not ante-thesis of each other but rather complement each other. On a closer scrutiny one can find the adpatability is the engine on which the commitment depends! Commitment to remain adaptable to changing situations is the formula for survival - be it for a living or non-living entities! Though adaptability is not a guarantee for success always - given an environment of uncertainty, a successful CEO is one who bodly moves forward, makes the right kind of experiments in the adaptability process (read mistakes or allow it to be made) takes ownership of that and recovers to achieve a roaring success! IBM is the case in point and there are a number of examples proving a simple dictum for success - Learn to remain committed to be adapt able - "after all it is the question of survival damn it" ! Adaptablity is a creative evolutionary process and committed to remain otherwise means, a step not in the right direction.
    [Views expessed in the article are personal and not necessarily that of the organization to which the author belongs.]

     
     
     
    • Praveen Zala
    • PM, Hewlett Packard

    Adapt. The word seems to have a 'world' in it! And rightly so! All human progress is based on humans' adaptability quotient! If it were not for us to behave - react or respond in a way - we would have been stuck in a timeless capsule with zero progress. 'Adapt' - in a sense is a precursor to the widely known phenomenon called 'Evolution' - traits and traces fo adapt over a long period results in 'Progress'. The flip side of it is what we discover later - for instance - we adapted to live with the cellphones in our pockets and used them extensively - the flipside is that we now found it to be emitting harmful radiations, which, over a period can hamper our health. The naysayers would still hope against all hope that the optimist and the 'can do' guy will lead them to glory! This is the principle at work in social circles that makes the followers to follow the guy with the most answers (right or wrong!)

     
     
     
    • Peter Popovich
    • Coachsultant/Doctoral Student, School of Who's There

    Commit first. Adapt second. Recommit third. Adjust fourth. Etc., etc, etc.

     
     
     
    • Marlis Krichewsky
    • researcher, Centre d'Innovation et de Recherche en Pédagogie de Paris

    Commitment and apdatability are both necessary. You have to commit to your "vision" and translate it into strategy. But ever changing situations demand not only strategy, but also tactics. Tactics is agility, adaptability: sometimes you will even have to draw back before going forward again towards your goal. So managers need both: a strong character with determination, and an open mind and vigilance... like a pilot who knows where he flies his plane but has to deal with and adapt to weather conditions and air traffic.