How to become a more Adaptable organization

adaptability theory

We’ve all experienced our world rapidly changing and felt the impact of unpredictable events to which we had to adapt. This need for adaptation does not stop here, as new technologies will continue to speed up and so does our need to continuously adjust. 

To stay ahead, you need to focus on your ability to continuously adapt, by training mental flexibility, empowering your employees, and creating the right environment where continuous learning takes place. 

 The good news is, adaptability is part of our being. We’ve always adapted to changing circumstances, we just need to tap into that being a bit more. 

From our experience in helping Fortune 500 companies, a variety of SMB’s, and innovative schools to become Adaptable, with a proven track record. We defined a few takeaways on how to cultivate Adaptability in your organization.

Connect meaning to work


Employees often feel like they are just a little gear in a big machine. The work they do has lost its meaning. Across the board, the global average of engagement at work resides around 20%.

Most people simply don’t care to adapt and change which is not so strange if you look at how their abilities are being applied at work. Can you imagine asking a workforce where 80% is not engaged to change and adapt? Most would rather sit out their time and collect their paycheck, or move to another company in what is called the great resignation.

Spend time on finding out what intrinsically motivates your people. How can you match their goals with company goals?

Let’s look at an example. 

The organization might see a need to work in a more data-driven way or wants to experiment with R.P.A. But employees don’t really care. Unless the new technology empowers them to do the things they love. Working with R.P.A. can free up time to spend on more valuable things, but have you asked your employees what they want?

Another example: If employees just want to help their customers in the best way possible. Showing how working more data-informed can help in achieving that goal is a good start. 

Sometimes people are mentally blocked by other things, but more on this later. 

Let’s first explore the need for intrinsic motivation some more as this is such a valuable asset. Research shows that there's a significant positive effect found between intrinsic motivation and creative/innovative performance. The higher the intrinsic motivation, the higher the creative and innovative outcome!

How happy employees are also impacts how well organizations perform financially. Public companies experienced extra stock portfolio returns of up to 16% per year, research revealed.



Cultivate curiosity and imagination.


Somewhere along the way, most people lose their mental flexibility, their ability to adapt and find new perspectives. It can get lost in the depths of bureaucracy, it can falter due to not taking care of inspiration, or because people simply grow older and have fewer new impulses. People become set in their way. 

 This results in a loss of capacity to meet challenges from unexpected directions, a loss of Adaptability.

But if we manage to expand the frames of our minds, what we perceive to be possible will also change. It’s quite simple.

What we do when working with clients, is to get people to share what inspires them, what pushes their boundaries. Great innovators like Jobs and Musk applied the same practice. For Steve Jobs, it was this typography class, for Elon Musk it’s gaming and Asimov’s Foundation trilogy.  For Zhang Ruimin it’s nature. This GPT3 empowered virtual avatar could also spark your curiosity.



Try to expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then try to bring those things into what you’re doing.” Steve Jobs



When people allow themselves to get inspired by the things that they are curious about like: art, nature, philosophy, science, or tech. —Magic happens.

This helps us to rekindle the flame of our imagination. We should not only do this because it makes life worth living, but also because it creates mental flexibility and helps find new perspectives. 

 You can ask the following questions in your team. 

 What are your sources of inspiration? 

How important are they to you on a scale of 1-10?

How well integrated are they in your life on a scale of 1-10?

You can find a template for the full exercise here.

These reflections and the shared inspiration will create newfound energy which is one of the key driving forces for adaptability. 

The next step is to find meaning.


Continuous learning


Once you have found what people are curious about and what their intrinsic motivation is. You’ve found the source for continuous learning. People will seek out new ideas, imagine new things which is great because a key asset in adaptability is, a willingness to learn and try out new things.

The data also supports this thinking, as it shows that people learn best when learning is relevant to people’s lives and interests. Although quite obvious it turns out people learn best when they like the things they learn about. Who would’ve thought? 

 You are not there yet though, you should also look at the context people are in. 

Agency over context


Open, inspired, and engaged people can already be a driving force for change. 

If you as a leader or team member are also able to create the right environment by taking away roadblocks, you can really unlock the gates to an Adaptable organization. 

Roadblocks that we hear too often are too much stress, fear of failure, no brain space, or lack of time. 

If you don’t take care of these blockers it’s like working on your Adaptability on hard mode. 

 Let’s look at stress for an example. Stress can reduce the thinking brain by 80%. It shuts off the brain regions that handle rational thinking, decision making, memory, and objective evaluation. Imagine asking stressed-out people to come up with new ideas or adapt to change.

Another thing that people feel they have no control over is the lack of time, having too many meetings, and having no brain space.

Creating space from work is actually a necessity, as this improves your wellbeing and seemingly paradoxically empowers you to do better at the work you are taking a distance from.

A relaxed and spacious mind also allows for new ideas to be explored; with an active, occupied mind we come up with familiar thoughts, more of the same. 

When you are able to create space and let your mind wander, when you allow the neural networks to rummage around, it can comb through our huge database that is stored in our brain combining concepts that would otherwise go unrecognized. It allows you to come up with more profound solutions. 

Since every company and culture is unique, and they all have their own specific challenges. The key here is to look at the entire context people are in and look for root cause solutions. 

Ask people what they need and what is holding them back. Solve challenges accordingly. 

Put the power in people’s hands to sculpt their own ideal environment where they can adapt and flourish.




Align people with their curiosity and intrinsic motivation to regain the power of imagination and to be better able to find new perspectives. This will help propel people forward and creates a hunger to learn and try out new things. With higher creative and innovative output as a result, while at the same time you create the ability to live more meaningful lives. 

You can follow the online program on how to cultivate adaptability in your organization and start today.

Or reach out to us if you want to further the conversation. 



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