Building a Smart and Adaptive Workforce

In recent months, people who can see change as opportunity have been emerging as leaders in every network. When others are overwhelmed, these people are quick to understand new situations and demands. As a habit of mind, they anticipate events, identify critical decision points, and maintain their focus on desired outcomes. When some on the team are calling for a slowdown, they recognize the need to act quickly, and they know what to monitor to assure that actions are effective. When these people work in teams, they anchor and drive innovation. 

Which of these classic group meetings describes how you need your organization to function?

The Dutiful Group:
In this meeting, the employees talk together, online or face to face in the conference room. They are there because they have knowledge or experience to resolve an emergent problem (manage a risk, deal with a shortage. They bring strong effort and serve their individual departments well. They all know the problem and several confident contributors suggest some real issues that must be addressed. Others offer cautions, pointing to unpredictability or potential loss. A significant amount of time is spent advising that no action be taken until more information is available. Someone counters with a claim that “taking some action is essential.” Someone suggests a cautious way forward that can be endorsed and discussed broadly. There is an implicit or explicit vote to endorse the result as “the recommendations of the group.” These employees expect to meet again at some point, although they are not eager. They leave the meeting knowing that the problem still needs a more effective intervention.

The Action Plan Group: These employees are practiced at taking the time to be clear about problems before they fix them. They are all well informed or they get the information they need.  Factfinding can take a bit of time, but it allows the group to work together on the actual crisis at hand. Everyone stands ready to explain their analysis of the issues and their recommendations for action. If someone suggests taking action (or no action) they provide their explanation of the relative benefits and costs of their plan compared to others under consideration. This meeting has no space for personal biases, trickery, self-serving intentions, or any other human foible. If any of these show up, the team has a strategy for calling out the issue and moving on without a loss of momentum. Everyone is concerned with managing risk. If the problems being discussed are of critical importance, this meeting does not end until an action plan is determined, critiqued, modified, and endorsed. Everyone knows, “taking no action is an action with potential consequences.” The action plan is accompanied by a well-reasoned report of how and why the plan is supported by the facts and available resources. The report can be shared with all constituents who merit this consideration.

Is it reasonable to expect that your people can be smart and adaptable action planners?

Absolutely. It is not only possible but necessary to identify and hire these people. They will respect needed procedures, control quality and costs, and still think creatively about improving processes. We can help you build teams who can respond to external challenges and opportunities at every level of your organization, and as their numbers grow to a critical mass, so will the resilience and responsiveness of your agency.

The INSIGHT Business suite provides assessments calibrated to measure thinking skills matched to each level of decision responsibility and innovative vision, and the mindset attributes needed for dependable and resilient workplace leadership, even as responsibilities change or increase. The INSIGHT Development Program uses interactive modules and common problem scenarios to provides leadership insights and trains employees in the practice of critical thinking skills and mindset needed to be smart and adaptive at the level of their own decision responsibility.

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