Learn from failure: The three key activities of Adaptive Leadership

Entrepreneurship is essential to economic development providing new jobs and innovative technologies. A large number of new ventures, however, fail.  Their failure nevertheless is essential for the sustainability of the economic ecosystem; just as death is essential to ecological ecosystems.  Research has repeatedly found that defunct businesses release a wealth of knowledge and resources that are readily used by other new ventures, and reduce the cost of learning in other existing businesses.

One of these learning points is “Adaptive Leadership.”  Adaptive leadership is becoming a prominent Adaptive-Leadership Workshopscontemporary concept.  Internal failures account up to 50% of all the costs of business.  The majority of internal failures can be traced to the failure to identify and/or rectify problems.  The cycle of internal failures (i.e. the repetitive attempts to solve a persistent problem) is an indication of an adaptive problem that needs adaptive leadership in order to be solved.

Adaptive leadership skills help identify these problems and allow for adaptive solutions that minimize iterations.  Three key activities are essential in adaptive leadership:

1- Observation: Observe events and patterns around you.  Different people observe same events differently. Adaptive leadership aims to make observations as objective as possible.
2- Interpretation: Develop multiple hypotheses and seek alternative interpretations.  Interpretation is much harder than observation.  Adaptive leadership teaches us how to listen and watch for different interpretations and understand the underlying values and loyalties.
3- Intervention: Design interventions based on observation and interpretation, making sure you have your stakeholders on board.  Once interpretations are made, it is time to decide what to do!  Intervention must provide context to connect to the purpose of the stakeholders.

These three key activities make a cycle.  This cycle is iterative and not linear therefore, we must view the intervention as being an experiment, and this means that could go back to observation, to interpret the results, and adjust interventions if needed.  Therefore, it could be much iteration before a final intervention is found.

Accepting the Status Quo is the first step towards business failure.  Things do not need to be broken to be fixed, or enhanced. Don’t wait for tomorrow to make the changes that you could make today to reach higher levels of success.

Join us on April 29th for a ½ day workshop where participants will have the opportunity to assess their own capacity for adaptation; as well as learn about the cycle of adaptation and identify areas for change and innovation.  For more information click here.



Nader is an e-Learning and Training Consultant, Change Manager, Researcher, Systems Thinker, Strategic Planner, Team Leader, and Coach. Nader has over 12 years experience in automation, digitization, e-content, e-learning consultancy and change management. He is a team player with strong communication and interpersonal skills. Proven track record in training and coaching adults for personal and professional development. Inquisitive, entrepreneurial, social, open minded, and with great ability to learn. Nader strives on problem solving in complex situations. Calm under pressure, efficient, and well organized.


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