Hacking HR to Build an Adaptability Advantage

deb-seidman's picture


By Deb Seidman on May 18, 2022

We are wired to follow routines.  When something is working for us, we will continue to do it.  Adaptability requires  a lot of energy.  The pain of doing  things the same way has to be greater than the pain of change or we won't garner the energy needed to make a change (or sustain it).  That doesn't mean, however we won't do new things.  New experiences can be exciting -- creating, innovating, building -- these can all be energizing and may not involve making a change (from something tried and true).  It may be that the drive to create and build brings us along such that we adapt to the new without realizing we've actually made a change.

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deb-seidman's picture

Lots of things could be done. One would be to be deliberate about getting people together to clean out the cobwebs. cobwebs. Gather folks together to look at what they are doing and how -- are there efforts that have outlived their usefulness? If so, they could be jettisoned or revised to meet the current need.

the most important thing is to make it easy to get started. Simple, quick activities that yield satisfaction. Add to that a social component and you build commitment. To get people thinking about ttrends outside the organization, have them get together for five minutes each day over coffee to report observations and or reflections. Collect what comes up. Then, every couple of months take a look at the trends emerging and consider potential opportunities for the business.

paula-aamli's picture

Deb -

Thanks for this. I started a reply on Monday and then the week hit me like a freight train and this has been my first moment to reflect again. I'm tempted of course to go off on a tangent and wonder how we will break those habits when that kind of thing happens - work takes off, we go into automatic pilot... and then it's a week later!

Underlines the point, I think, that stock-taking (cleaning out the cobwebs) has to be deliberate...

I think I can see a systematic approach underpinning what you're suggesting - reflect, collect, refine - which would be served well by collective technology of some sort. And that in itself is going to be a competitive differentiator - some of our organisations are going to be super keen to experiment with new tech - and some... aren't. And of course, there *are* benefits and drawbacks to both jumping straight in AND holding back.

paula-aamli's picture

Hi Deb

One of the things I really like about how you've framed this is that you've allowed space for habits to be in themselves not necessarily a bad thing - it's a technique that's wired into us to allow us to do all the essentials whilst expending the minimum necessary energy. And I love the idea that floating above these structures, the human instinct to create and explore may bring us through an adaptive process without having to get too 'deliberate' about it.

I guess though there are times when that incremental flirtation with the new needs some 'extra help' to break through old habits that have become redundant - or worse. Any thoughts on what would give our innate creativity that extra power factor when needed?