Posted by: Lauren Hill
Date: 11 February 2020
Category: Insight
4 minute read

Adaptability and anti disciplinarian approaches to create the future

We’re standing today on the edge of uncertainty – at the intersection and collision of old world, new world, creativity, technology, work and life. The constant evolution of technology means it’s never advanced quite this fast, and thanks to our knowledge of Moore’s Law (itself obsolete within a decade), means it will never occur this slowly again either. Yet still I’ve observed we reject and resist the advance of this force, and the opportunities for associated exponential opportunity.

We humans all know from experience that, when embraced, change brings untold wonder: learning, opportunity, pleasure and ultimately survival. If resisted, it breeds fear, irrelevance and obsolescence. The latter are all lonely places, and are incongruous with the human way of living and working.


Suddenly, the iceberg

Be clear on how your products and services are invaluable. What are your unique selling points (USPs)? What do your

The antidote to this is a combination of the ability to adapt, access to diversity of thought supported by human connection through work, life and play. This is not new, Da Vinci encouraged diversity in his network and it’s likely this approach that delivered his many breakthrough theories. Fast forward a few hundred years and I believe this is also the current zeitgeist.

However, one of the main impediments to advancements of the magnitude achieved by Da Vinci is when we put ourselves at risk of hitting the metaphorical iceberg and focus solely on incremental growth.

Instead, a growth mindset, once that embraces an exponential growth curve, is imperative because nothing changes if nothing changes. Especially if nothing changes fundamentally or speedily. Suddenly we find ourselves, our environment, our creativity and our livelihoods at risk.

Commonly felt as a rut within the self, or decline and disruption in business, suddenly we or our businesses and our networks are no longer relevant and we feel disconnected. We have hit the iceberg. How do businesses adapt to change..?

For many people, technology and other factors such as changing business processes, financial and operating models, may feel like the culprit where in reality, we ourselves were culpable of not seeing the iceberg. But we need not be its victim.

Technology has changed the world beyond belief and herein lies a challenge of a linear growth mindset. We perhaps don’t dare to believe the infinite possibilities of exponential speed of innovation to drive meaningful change in health, energy and transport.

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Adaptability Quotient

Change and change agents, represented today by new technology, new processes, and new models of living, working, creating, selling, communicating and socialising, have shown us that continuous learning is requisite and how to adapt to change in business.

I touched on this in my last column, known as Adaptability Quotient (AQ), sitting alongside Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ), AQ is what will single out successful people, projects and companies by how we adapt and change.

No-one need be left behind, AQ is not exclusive to a chosen few. It can be developed and we need to make it part of our whole self and part of our operating culture. It’s what we will seek in our peers, colleagues and employees to help us deal with the unknown. It will start to emerge as a skill, something we teach, mentor and coach our teams to achieve. We will see larger organisations establish Adaptability capabilities, perhaps even the rise of Chief Adaptability Officers to ensure culture takes aim at exponential growth rather than incremental growth.

Take Australia as an example: as the land of the self-employed, the give-a-go, lucky country then adaptability surely forms a natural part of Australian DNA.

We are wired to adapt to changes in the business environment effectively, so how are you setting up yourself and your business to succeed through exponential change? What structure have you set up in your creative workspace to enable collaborative working, cross-pollination of ideas and serendipitous moments? How are you building Adaptability Quotient into your world? How will you measure its contribution?

In the not too distant future we will see more than two or three vocational specialisms, more like six or seven, that will provide the adaptability to step up and serve our future needs, and industries that don’t exist now but will in the future. This means that work won’t necessarily feel like that thing you do between the things you do that you love.  We’ll feel better for it, and live more enriched lives.


The anti disciplinarian petri dish

We only need to look close to home to see the abundance of opportunities to apply an anti disciplinarian approach to the many grand societal challenges we look to resolve.

Natural disasters abound, floods, drought, cyclones, bushfires and extreme heat and hailstorms. Australia’s expansive landmass alone loads on a layer of complexity, before you’ve added a small population living in relatively few predominantly coastal habitats. We have 130,000 square kilometres of reef and 134 million hectares of bushland to protect.

But this won’t come by resisting the pull of change and diversity. If you aren’t exposed enough to others you risk irrelevance so it’s vital to environ with people that will help you reflect on your work and your whole future.

Australia is the ideal petri dish for anti disciplinarian research because of these many homegrown challenges. Experimentation by people of diverse backgrounds and experience will lead to more humane futures, where mass adoption of solutions is effectively scaled through technology.

For it’s here you find the flashes of brilliant white space among the business as unusual. And we have to do this to give ourselves the best possible chance to succeed, and thrive in a future that promises only exponential growth and change.

Then we see that it doesn’t just become resolving one country’s problems, but the world’s.

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