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Scaling Agility with Adaptive Space

One of the biggest challenges facing organizations today is the need to be agile. We live in the era of disruption, where the lack of agility is the kiss of death. John Chambers, Executive Chairman of Cisco, said, “If you don’t transform…if you don’t reinvent yourself, change your organization structure; if you don’t talk about speed of innovation—you’re going to get disrupted. And it’ll be a brutal disruption, where the majority of companies will not exist in a meaningful way 10 to 15 years from now.” A study from Washington University projects that an estimated 40 percent of today’s S&P 500 companies will no longer exist a decade from now.

This reality leaves organizations with a critical choice: disrupt or be disrupted. They need to adapt, in real time, in response to the changing demands of their environments. In the era of disruption, organizations need to be more liquid than static. This is where adaptive spacecomes into play. Adaptive space can be thought of as the relational and emotional freedom for people to freely explore, exchange, and debate ideas. It operates as a sort of freetrade zone for ideas, by tapping into the power of network dynamics, adaptive space creates connections that serve to discover, develop, and diffuse new ideas into and across an organization. For organizations to be agile, they need to openly scan across and beyond the organization for the next big thing. Then they need to think about how to bring an idea into the world in a more tangible manner. Finally, they need to scale these concepts throughout the organization to enable a new normal by positively disrupting itself.

There are four types of connections that are critical. Discovery and development connections represent how various networks within an organization are relationally arranged to explore and experiment with ideas. While diffusion and disruption represent the day-to-day emotional connections within an organization that either encourage people to engage in innovative activities or challenge the status quo. Combined, discovery, development and diffusion connections proactively position individuals and organizations alike to disrupt before being disrupted. In the era of disruption, we don’t need better strategies or technologies, what we need is better interactions. More simply stated, when it comes to agility, it's social.

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