The Secret to Adaptive Cultures

Have you noticed this hypocrisy in yourself or people in your organization? Out of one side of our mouths we say, “We love new ideas.” Out of the other we say, “We hate change.”

New ideas change things.

Tendency:

Organizations tend to harden their methods, processes, and procedures as time passes; they resist change.  New ideas disrupt.

A new kind of consistency:

Everyone needs points of consistency and stability. What if one point of consistency is trying one new idea every week, big or small? The secret to adaptive cultures is consistently changing something.

Could change for the sake of change be useful?

The tradition of change:

This Monday morning ask, “What could we change this week?” Perhaps you could change the way the phone is answered. Could you create a “no email” hour? How about, the new default length of meetings this week is 45 minutes; be brave, try 30.

Difficult:

  1. Change is difficult because we don’t practice it regularly.
  2. We usually think of change in big rather than small terms.
  3. We don’t celebrate small changes; they’re not important enough.
  4. We impose change rather than creating it together. Bottom-up is better than top-down.

Fun:

Creating an adaptive culture can be fun if we:

  1. Learn as we go.
  2. Laugh at mistakes.
  3. Honor the spirit of trying new things.
We can’t say we love new ideas and hate change at the same time.

How can leaders create adaptive cultures?