Given the complexity and speed of which things change in our lives these days, an adaptive mindset is essential to building a  resilient, sustainable and thriving business. An adaptive mindset is a mental attitude of assessing the facts and circumstances of the current situation and/or environment and making the appropriate adjustments to thrive in any scenario. It is the ability to  make the most of the moment, learn from mistakes, develop course corrections in order to grow and move forward. Change happens fast in the global information economy, even for small businesses. Success these days means approaching your work with fresh eyes, eager to learn, earn and innovate every day.


If you believe, you grow from your mistakes, you will and creative solutions will follow, If you believe how well you bounce back from mistakes depends on your beliefs about learning and intelligence. When you believe that intelligence develops through effort and experience, mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn and improve. If you believe intelligence is fixed, you may fool yourself into believing that mistakes demonstrate a lack of ability, not a lack of experience.

The opposite of adaptive something that learns or grows, would be a conditioned system like a machine. Organizations built to run like machines are thus by their nature slower to adapt to market changes. Since markets in the information age change quickly, the ability to adapt to new situations has become increasingly important.

Here are 9 ways to can cultivate an adaptive mindset at work

  • Be a constant student of your environment, industry, community, customers and genuine interests. This means paying close attention,being aware and present. Determine specific priorities for your business and focus on that.
  • Be a life long learner and strive to improve your openness to new ideas. Incorporate creative processes as appropriate. Emphasize and edify people who demonstrate the ability to add value to your life and work. This will increase your empathy, and attention to outside perspectives.
  • One of the most neglected skill areas is the art of learning itself. Learn better ways of learning. Dedicate time to improving your ability to learn. Take advantage of better ways of consuming, studying, comprehending, and leveraging new information.
  • Trust your gut and believe in yourself enough set resources aside now to pursue opportunities you foresee. Your skills will allow you to find common ground in unfamiliar territory. For better or not, your natural frame of reference from past experiences will influence how you relate to new areas.  
  • Get cross-functional and encourage teams to broaden their skillset to communicate and collaborate together. Use fluid roles and job titles that allow for flexibility.
  • Experiment, take risks, and most importantly, play. Play with what you’ve got. Accept the surroundings, obstacles, and circumstance as part of the canvas and paint away. Encourage innovation in the ranks by leading the way.
  • Practice Design Thinking.  Map out the problems, requirements and frame solutions, design them in away to enhance efficiency, flexibility and responsiveness. Design thinking scales to business of all sizes.
  • Focus on value adding activities not busy work. This requires having an objective and expected return in mind, as well as just saying no to mental masturbation of work for work’s sake.

Listen to diverse and divergent opinions. Think of a strange hybrid love child between NPR, Fox News and The Daily Show. What would the equivalent be in your line of work? Take it in and form a holistic opinion. Make information available for others to succeed and build from your findings and experience. They may even improve performance or result in new and better solutions. Identifying opportunities, avoiding pitfalls, starts with great listening skills. Listen. Create different personal and company wide listening policies. Where can you listen to your customers? Competitors? When can you do it? How much time should you devote to it? The answers to these questions will vary.