As technology increases the scope, pace, and complexity of the modern workforce, it’s important to be adaptable. If we become too entrenched in standard or established processes, we may be missing out on key opportunities—opportunities that our competitors may be capitalizing on. Luckily, becoming more versatile, creative problem solvers is a skill that we can cultivate through careful action, for ourselves and our teams.
We have curated a list of three summaries from Actionable Books to help you navigate a shifting business landscape. If you become too entrenched in the “way things used to be,” or can’t help your teams build this critical skill, you will be outmanoeuvred by others who can.
These summaries will give you the framework you need to create a learning, creative culture in your organization, and build an engaged team that is capable of navigating new challenges.
Failure is uncomfortable. Most of us do everything in our power to avoid it, and when we inevitably fail (at work or in our personal lives), we feel shame and try to hide our failures from others. In Adapt, Tim Harford describes a framework for embracing failure as a way to ultimately become more successful. It sounds counterintuitive, but embracing failure, acknowledging that it will occur and creating safe spaces to experiment in, makes us more adaptable problem solvers. Framing failure as a learning opportunity will help you to unpack why something didn’t work, and allow you to pivot your strategy to see better results.
By embracing failure as an inevitable part of the problem-solving process, we can begin to reduce the stigma and shame associated with failure, and start taking advantage of the lessons we learn when things don’t work out the way we’d hoped. Did a recent marketing campaign produce uninspired results? Use that as an opportunity to pivot your strategy. Did your team fail to land the big client they were hoping for? Talk openly about it—without assigning blame or shame—and determine ways to refine your pitch for the next big client.
The Connected Company
In The Connected Company Dave Gray explores strategies for cultivating a collaborative and adaptive organizational structure. By emphasizing the connection between individuals—teammates, employees and their team leaders, and customers and your business—you will be poised to adapt to a constantly changing marketplace. It’s easy to become isolated from our teams, managers, and peers. By working to proactively connect with those around us, we can leverage the intelligence of the group, and solve problems more effectively.
Take a look at the structure of your team or organization: are people comfortable talking to each other? Are you connected, on a regular basis, with your customers or target market? Without a constant connection to the people who buy your product/service, as well as to the teams that execute your vision, you may be leaving opportunities unexplored. Your competition will be happy to pick up the slack.
The Accidental Creative
Many of us have misconceptions about our creativity. Maybe a teacher in our youth discouraged creative thinking, or we received harsh criticism for our first attempts at artistic invention. However, in the 21st century workplace, we can all benefit from cultivating our creativity to help solve problems, design new solutions, and overcome obstacles.
Henry outlines several simple actions that we can all take to cultivate our creativity. In the summary, we discuss two tactics: avoid distractions, and read widely. In our increasingly connected world, it can be difficult to focus wholly on a creative task. However, distractions are detrimental to creativity. If you have a complex problem to solve, turn all your notifications on Do Not Disturb, so that you can immerse yourself in the problem. The second tactic is particularly close to my heart—read widely, paying close attention to canonical works of literature. Reading the great writers of our history can inform your framework for understanding the world, help you make new connections, and solve problems more creatively.
Adaptability and creativity are important qualities to help businesses stay competitive in a constantly shifting business landscape. While you may have assumed that these qualities are embedded in an individual’s personality, these three summaries prove that they are in fact skills which can be improved with practice and attention. Check out these summaries for tactics that you can try with your teams today!