6 Principles to Create an Adaptive Organization (Reeves)
According to Reeves, Lewin and Ueda, companies - similar to living organisms - are "COMPLEX ADAPTIVE SYSTEMS". They evolve in a complex manner, wherein individuals
contribute towards shaping and altering the system. In turn, the system
leads individual entities to be adaptive to changes, which in fact is the only way to survive.
must manage the complex process of change, in view of guaranteeing the survival of the firm and the development of staff.
The authors draw up a range of six principles that can assist leaders in managing complexity
- BOLSTER (~SUPPORT) DIVERSITY: Ensure that the company gathers a strong mix of "people, ideas & endeavors". Recruit staff from different backgrounds. Encourage the staff to experiment new ideas.
- COMPARTMENTALIZE: Compartmentalize business units to ensure a degree of independence from the overall system. This prevents external shocks from adversely affecting the individual businesses.
- BUILD DUPLICATION within operations, for instance with respect to suppliers. This ensures that disruption of one unit does not bring the whole system to a grinding halt.
- BE PREPARED TO TACKLE UNCERTAINTY: Monitor what rivals, especially startups, are up to. Conceive ways to address areas of weaknesses where rivals can outperform your business.
- DEVELOP FEEDBACK MECHANISMS: Establish feedback methods between staff & company procedures. For example, leaders can enhance collaboration with staff through field visits and in turn, they are able to integrate insights into novel strategies.
- PROMOTE MUTUAL SUPPORT: Individual staff must be encouraged to work in the best interest of the organization, while leaders should promote staff well being and offer incentives.
⇒ Do you agree with these principles? How do you apply them in practice?
Source: Martin Reeves, Simon Levin, Daichi Ueda (2016) "The Biology of Corporate Survival" Harvard Business Review.