The difference between technical and adaptive is a fantastic insight! I like titles that say “without easy answers” because there is none!
The difference between an adaptive problem and a technical one is key. There are problems that are just technical. I’m delighted when a car mechanic fixes my car, an orthopedic surgeon gives me back a healed bone, or an internist gives me penicillin and cures my pneumonia. That’s a key question: is this a problem that an expert can fix, or is this a problem that is going to require people in the community to change their values, their behavior, or their attitudes? For this problem to be solved, are people going to need to learn new ways of doing business?
Quite a lot of food for thought here.
. . . Adaptive leadership, in other words, is not just about change. It’s also about identifying what you want to hold on to. In biology, most of the DNA’s worth keeping. That’s also true in organizational and political life. It would be stupid to do radical surgery when it’s unnecessary. Yet many leaders forget to remind people that a change process also involves a lot of hard thinking about what to preserve.
. . . in organizational life, adaptive leadership requires an experimental mindset rather than an "I’ve got the answers" mindset. It’s not enough to have a vision for the future and to identify a critical path for moving forward. Adaptive leaders have to understand that today’s plan is simply today’s best guess. They must be able to deviate from the plan when they discover realities they hadn’t anticipated.
. . . when you attain a position of significant authority, people inevitably expect you to treat adaptive challenges as if they were technical – to provide for them a remedy that will restore equilibrium with the least amount of pain and in the shortest amount of time. That puts enormous pressure on people in authority to have the answer rather than to raise the tough questions. We see that dilemma even for a doctor having to tell a patient, "I can only solve part of the problem by operating – by doing surgery on your heart. The other part of the problem you’re going to have to solve by changing your diet, your exercise regime, and by quitting smoking." Doctors are wonderfully trained in being technical experts, but they are very poorly trained in mobilizing people to change their ways.
An aspect of adaptive work that distinguishes it from technical work is that you cannot take the problem off people’s shoulders. In adaptive problems, the people themselves are the problem; the solution, therefore, lies within them. If they don’t change their ways, then you have no solution – all you have is a proposal.
I will return to this link for learning frequently.
I will take some time after Sunday to slowly walk through this awesome piece!
I try my best to do this . okay, I’m training myself and it’s getting into my system and the kids too! 🙂 Good questions below.
1. For Parents of Young Children: What would it be worth to you to have a teenager some day who won’t go to sleep without talking to you about their day? Praying with you? Blessing you? Would it be worth five minutes? Tonight? Every night?
2. For Parents of Pre-Teens: What would happen to your family over time if you were able to keep this open, caring communication going every night throughout adolescence?
3. For Parents of Teenagers: Once the teen years begin and drivers’ licences come into play, communication between parents and teens can become a challenge. How might this type of five-minute conversation change a family if they were intentional and consistent about it? Would the benefits outweigh the hassle of trying to invest this time of care, listening, and prayer each night in your home? Why or why not?
4. For Church Leaders: What would happen to a family over time if they made an intentional point of doing the Faith 5 most every night? What would happen to your church five years from today if the majority of your households were doing active listening, scripture, faith talk, prayer, and blessings every night?