While most challenges contain both technical and adaptive aspects, it is critical to distinguish between those two elements. Otherwise all too often adaptive challenges get treated as if they are technical problems and do not get resolved. According to Heifetz et al. (2009) technical problems share the following elements: existence of known solutions, made feasible by application of authoritative expertise and utilization of current organizational structures and procedures. Adaptive challenges can only be successfully met by overhauling people’s priorities, beliefs, behaviors, and loyalties. Adaptive challenges require engaging in productive conflict, tolerating losses, and discovering new ways to thrive in a changing environment.
Figure 2-1 captures differences between technical problems and adaptive challenges (Heifetz et al., 2009, p.20).
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- Introduction to Adaptive Leadership
- Distinction between “leadership” and “authority”
- Resistance to adaptive change
- Holding environment
- Can Adaptive Leadership skills be developed?
Latest posts by Susanna Katsman (see all)
- Adaptive Leadership: Can Adaptive Leadership Skills Be Developed? Part 6 - October 1, 2013
- Adaptive Leadership: “Holding Environment”, Part 5 - September 24, 2013
- Adaptive Leadership: Resistance To Adaptive Change, Part 4 - September 17, 2013
- Adaptive Leadership: Distinction Between “Leadership” and “Authority” – Part 3 - September 10, 2013
- Adaptive Leadership: Distinction Between “Technical” Problems and “Adaptive” Challenges, Part 2 - September 3, 2013