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Adaptability: inspiring generations

September 10, 2013


Adaptiveness: changing the way we behave

Here is Pauli Penttilä talking about adaptability, principle 2 of No Straight Lines

I don’t  want to have an impact on leadership in current organizations. I want to inspire young people. And when a child is two or three and starts farming mushrooms on the coffee waste of mum, then that child will never ever accept that there is real hunger in the world. The child will only believe that there is ignorance in the world. Not knowing how to solve it. And if a child of two and three knows how to do it, then by the time that child turns ten and fifteen or twenty, thirty five or fifty, I mean the whole perspective of the world will have changed. And they were not going to be asking that the only thing we need is now stop population growth. No, it is an important component, no doubt, but it is not the panacea to the whole solution. We have to change the way we behave, and if we have moved half the world’s population into the city and 98 percent of our food still comes from out of the city, then we had better get used to traffic jams. Or are we going to start farming, real farming, in the cities. And of course then we can’t do the massification of farming as we have done it. So, to me the key is adaptability. Recognition that we have to change ourselves, and therefore we must become masters of adaptation.

Mastery of adaptation: We must always be prepared to adapt, to upgrade constantly and understand that to be agile is a key survival principle. We must of course recognise that we have asked the craftsman to always be in beta, so he can be open, but the organisation too must always be in beta. This ability to upgrade constantly in its hardware, software, organisational structures, business models is required at least for the time being. The crafted organisation is therefore constantly creating, collaborating, critiquing, communicating. Altogether this is a cognitive action at a group and social level; it is a learning culture, where the default setting is open rather than closed. It means there is a culture of emergence: for example, to see beyond cutting edge technology, capable of identifying the key drivers of emerging technology, as well as the pace at which they continue to develop, and capable of evaluating the relevance of a particular technology in order to design a resolution for the challenge at hand. You could say we need to design for adaptation and today, we have tools and technologies, software and hardware, computing capability and organisational processes that mean we can now design for adaptation.
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