Adaptive challenges require one to reinterpret, question their own values as well as habits and behavior. It requires a lot more reflection than spontaneous actions. In times of crisis, pressure mounts to take quick action. This plays out as strength for many people and as such many people rise to the occasion to do something. Emergency management is a needed skill. It has enabled people to save those who are trapped in a burning building and even those who were drowning.
Adaptive leadership is different from rescuing people from fire. Adaptive challenges are hard to define and require people to question their own priorities, habits, behavior and priorities. When leading adaptive change, you will encounter resistance by stirring the pot, upsetting the status quo and creating disequilibrium.
Dr. Daniel had recently been transferred to ABC hospital. The hospital had just recorded a number of deaths resulting from a strange disease that had spread in Neema town. Patients had the same symptoms as those who were suffering from Malaria. His colleagues opted to administer Malaria vaccines to these patients. However, patients' conditions worsened resulting in deaths. Hospital management was desperate to find the cure of this disease and samples had been sent to different laboratories both locally and internationally.
Dr Daniel together with 2 more doctors were allocated the hospital wing dealing with the disease. As the patients were admitted, groaning in pain, his colleagues were looking at Malaria drugs as the only resort of helping the patients against the pain and to cure the disease. Dr Daniel believed the disease patients were suffering from was not malaria hence he could not administer the drug despite the noises from patients.
Some families were bitter with him as they felt the doctor, they came to seek help from was not helping. On realizing that, Dr Daniel opted to join the lab technicians, encouraging them to put more hours in finding out the cause and the structure of the disease. As this process continued, more and more deaths were reported especially on patients who were on Malaria treatment. A week later, it was discovered that the disease had a different structure from malaria and malaria drugs boosted the spread of the disease in the patient’s organs. Patients who had not been given malaria drugs were treated and discharged.
Solving an adaptive challenge takes time and reflection. One has to resist the pressure to do something rather one should spend time diagnosing the problem. Spending time diagnosing a problem when a solution is urgent gets uncomfortable. However, you have to give yourself time to assess your own skills and to determine whether you are the right person to intervene. Feel free to leave the challenge to someone else if they will have a better chance of success. Always take time to assess the risk; ask yourself whether the potential rewards are worth the risks.