Innovative Thinking vs. Adaptive Thinking

The model of being an innovative company has been glorified over the past 10 to 15 years, but as the economy gets more conservative, so do businesses and adaptive thinking becomes a more appropriate model. This is not necessarily the best model, as we need to mold teams to fit the problem.

In today’s economic times businesses are asking themselves the questions they probably should have been asking during the times of milk and honey. What is really necessary around here? How can we trim the fat? Which leads to lean… But “Lean” is often just associated with variation reduction, six sigma, and the like. But drilling down to the basics, lean is “how do we do business without the fluff?”That really is the tough call.


Who is the one deciding what is fluff and what is needed? As we pare down the different functions and people need training to do new tasks or as they move into new positions, again, how do you decide what they really need, and what is the least expensive, most effective option?

Often combined products are purchased and none of the multiple aspects live up to expectations. Other times you are so blown out of the water by the depth and usefulness of a product, you wonder why the price is so attractive. Those latter situations are the ones we really look for, don’t we? And when you find them, do you share them with colleagues? Isn’t that what networking is all about? Suddenly instead of a conversation being about you or your product, you are talking about something that will help their company in many aspects of its business, and will also build your relationship with the person you are networking with.What seems to be the one thing that is the barrier to growth and/or profitability in many companies? In my mind it is all about relationships and communication. If you can’t communicate clearly the goals and methods to achieve those goals, you might as well close the door. And when relationships start to form – good bad and everything in between, that’s when you either have synergy or conflict.

So the road to synergy has to be in massaging the relationships while growing the business and guiding everyone toward set goals.What does that sound like to you? To me it’s coaching. Effective coaching. But most people haven’t been taught how to be a coach. My degree is in Organizational Behavior and Applied Psychology, and there wasn’t a single course that was about coaching others. It was hinted at, but it was never fully on the table. So it is no wonder that as a leader, I wasn’t the greatest coach in the world. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the general tools, I did. During my time in the military there was lots of ‘on the job’ training, coaching moments, and they helped me grow. I also graduated from the Army’s Non-Commissioned Officer Academy and learned about primary leadership, but still that didn’t give me all the tools that I needed.

I needed something to turn to when specific situations arose. I have two people who, for the moment at least, need to work together, but there is personality clash. Where can I go to figure out how to handle that? The way things are right now, HR is swamped and understaffed in most companies. With all the federal regulations and guidelines on health, safety, personnel, benefits, 401K’s, etc, etc, do they have time to handle a problem that is inconsequential in the big scheme of things?

Or they are also not trained in specifics and don’t know where to find answers?

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