Technology, pluralism, a global economy, and increasing heterogeneity are just a few factors making our world more complex. And since change is inevitable, being able to thrive in this chaos is critical.
Tom Peters, author of Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution, proposes that organizations who want to survive in rapidly changing times need to embrace innovation and flex their management style.
Studying the past gives keen insight into the future. One of my favorite examples is cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead’s observations of indigenous tribes and how they reacted to the trauma of their new reality post World War II. She carefully observed and recorded characteristics of the groups that prospered and those that failed after being disrupted.
We would do well to learn from these key insights and do the same as we navigate our ever-changing reality. Here are some of Margaret’s key findings:
Acknowledge. Tribes that flourished inspected and reflected—making sure they understood their past, fully understood the changes taking place in the present, and anticipated the reality of how they would affect their future.
Adopt. Successful tribes were able to accept new ideas and innovations. In our generation, we have had to embrace massive technological advances. You can decry the Internet all you want, but you had better learn how to use it!
Abandon. Tribes were able to assess what was no longer relevant and let it go. This planned abandonment was motivated by an ardent desire to survive—it was discard or die!
Rarely gifted leadership. There was always a visionary leading the tribes who survived. This rarely gifted leader had an uncanny ability to see what was, what is, and predict what is to come. They were not only able to process the principles of Acknowledge, Adopt and Abandon, they were able to cast this vision and lead people to do the same.
Take these evergreen principles to heart—acknowledge the legacy of your past, adopt what’s changing in your present, plan to abandon what’s irrelevant and position yourself for success in the future. These are key to not just surviving, but actually thriving in our ever-changing world!
Be sure to read:
- Transitioning through change well
- How to Win with a Leadership Transition Plan
- Drucker for Millennials