The Adaptation Advantage: Let Go, Learn Fast, and Thrive in the Future of Work Heather E. McGowan, Chris Shipley Book Summary

The Adaptation Advantage: Let Go, Learn Fast, and Thrive in the Future of Work Heather E. McGowan, Chris Shipley | Free Book Summary

The Adaptation Advantage: Let Go, Learn Fast, and Thrive in the Future of Work Heather E. McGowan, Chris Shipley

Jobs once depended on muscles, they now depend on brains, but in the future, they’ll depend on the heart. The authors envision a time when people collaborate and create rich work environments.

Children are learning in a different way

Children require foundational knowledge to help them put data into context. They also necessitate basic literacy in traditional reading and quantitative skills, as well as digital intelligence, creativity, and collaboration.

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For example, the popular online learning site Khan Academy organizes students by independence rather than age.

The Three Learning Generations

Open and connected systems assist learners in recognizing and responding to changing signals. These systems have three organizational learning generations.

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  • The first is concerned with acquiring and storing knowledge.
  • The second takes into account product life cycles and optimizes for efficiency.
  • The third is the autonomous learning loop, in which the learning rate accelerates and new efficiencies and iterations are created in real-time.

Leaders must adapt to the new world

Any business should avoid basing its long-term decisions solely on quarterly profits. 

More consideration needs to be given to where and how leaders take their followers. The notion that a leader’s responsibility is to derive value from people and processes is gradually giving way to the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s emphasis on adaptability and learning at a faster rate than your rivals.

Experiment 1: The Cookie Monster

One person is randomly selected to lead a group of three people. 

They are given four cookies to share. Each person takes a cookie. Almost always, the leader takes the last cookie. 

When a person feels powerful, he or she loses interest in what other people think and loses empathy, fairness, and collaboration. 

Leaders must learn to let go of the cookie.

Experiment 2: The Super Chicken Paradox

Finding the “best” candidates from the “best” universities and forcing them to compete for the top positions ensures unproductive conflicts.

By grouping the best laying hens in one cage, an evolutionary biologist tested a method for getting the most eggs out of the best laying hens among nine flocks. Only three of the nine top producers lived after pecking the others to death.  

The better choice is to disperse all of the hens from the cages with the highest production rates. Egg production increased by 160 percent over a few generations, and no hen ever killed another.

Culture and capacity define the workplace

Consider the circumstances in which you create and produce rather than what your company produces. These circumstances are influenced by culture and ability. Companies can either intentionally or unintentionally create a sense of mission and value known as culture. Benefits that reflect company values are offered by workplaces with intentional cultures.

Understanding capacity: the brain of the company

A company’s capacity is its ability to take advantage of opportunities. Contextual changes enable organizations to identify their biases. Companies can benefit from, and take advantage of, these bias-busting moments by cultivating a work environment that builds capacity. In the past, you had to learn how to use technology to perform your job. People and technology are increasingly learning from one another.

The job posting ad

A good job posting should start with a description of your company. Describe the ideal candidate rather than the job. Describe how you want the applicant to approach the job. Creating adaptive teams necessitates the use of adaptive hiring strategies. 

Don’t hire people exactly like you

The best leaders hire for mission and mindset, but they can be wary of people who think differently than they do. Value opposing viewpoints; they add cognitive diversity to your organization.

Adaptive teams

Create adaptive teams that are purpose-built to address a specific challenge or goal. A team, for example, could have rotating specialists—engineers, designers, and project managers—as well as a research group that looks for new opportunities. 

While leaders raise the bar to meet new expectations, your teams require “clear eyes focused on an uncertain horizon.”

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