Adaptive challenges present situations where no known solutions have been established for the problem. Solving adaptive challenges will involve inclusion and participation of various groups of people in the society and organizations
Adaptive challenges present situations where no known solutions have been established for the problem. Solving adaptive challenges will involve inclusion and participation of various groups of people in the society and organizations. Adaptive challenge in its nature is complex and solving it may require change in the approach which may touch things and values that people in the society hold dear. Understanding organization political relationships is key in ensuring smooth and successful execution of an adaptive work.
In his book on adaptive leadership, Ronald Heifetz used the metaphor of vegetable stew to explain the challenges experienced by people of good will when leading an adaptive change. Making good vegetable stew requires cooking different ingredients enough to give up their original color and taste; else one may end up with a pot of crunchy vegetables. Cooking vegetables too much will make each vegetable lose its distinctive qualities. Obtaining the variety of vegetables to make the stew can be an easy process but how do you ensure commitment of each vegetable to the course of making the right stew?
Thinking politically requires you to think of each vegetable as stakeholders in your good course of adaptive work. Your goal is to get your stew just right. It is likely that you will not get all involved vegetables in one room to discuss your goal. Your team may however comprise of the representative from each vegetable type. For each representative in the change initiative, they have knowledge that they will have to return to their respective land. Thinking of the consequences and the expectations of the society in respective lands may result in a huge collaboration barrier.
An adaptive leader is required to focus beyond the representatives who are directly involved. Paying attention to the carrot, onion, tomato when they return to their respective lands contaminated with other vegetable juices helps narrow the gap hence influences commitment. Because of this, one is required to look at the society as a web of stakeholders and be required to determine the answers of the following items by engaging various stakeholders:
1) Values - what does a stakeholder value? What are the beliefs influencing behaviors and also decision-making processes? What are the commitments for each stakeholder?
2) Loyalties - What responsibilities does the person have to people around their immediate group?
3) Losses at risk - Should things change, what does one fear losing?
4) Hidden alliances - What are things in common the person has with other people in other groups? How do those people in respective groups influence the decision making?
Stakeholders take various forms depending on the roles the groups play. In our next lesson we will look in detail different types of stakeholders who will influence the success of your adaptive work.