WATCH: How Much Adaptive Capacity Do You Have?

In this episode, I’d like to talk about ‘The Paradox of Adaptive Efficiency’. It’s one of the 12 behavioural Paradoxes developed by Dr. Dan Harrison. And, if we think of a paradox as two statements which seem to be contradictory but yet are both true. We can see a behavioural paradox as having two behaviours which seem to be contradictory but yet when they come together form something synergistic.


So, in ‘The Paradox of Adaptive Efficiency’, the two traits that we’re talking about are ‘Organised’ which is a tendency to bring order to situations and environments.


And, ‘Flexible’, which is the tendency to be easy about adapting to change, finding change very easy to adapt to.

Rigidly Organised

So, however, if we’re out of balance and we’re very high ‘Organised, but low on ‘Flexibility’, we can become ‘Rigidly Organised’. And while we may be good at creating structures and order, and efficiency, that efficiency is lost, if we have to change and we’re too rigid. And it can help to avoid mistakes by having clear structure and order. But if we enforce that order too rigorously and force other people to comply. That can actually create rigidity and inflexibility and that can hinder performance. Because, clear structures can help performance, but rigid structures can actually hinder performance.

Scattered’ quadrant

Now, if we’re very high on ‘Flexible’, but low on ‘Organised’, we can actually find ourselves in the ‘Scattered’ quadrant. While we may be very adaptable to change and find it easy to adapt to change.

Flexible Organising

We can actually, through a lack of order create hindrances and a lack of organisation that will hinder the performance of our team. And, while we may be adaptive to the needs of others, we may not actually be ‘Organised’ so that our team is gets disorganised, and we make last minute requests of them and that can really hinder their performance, innovation, and productivity. So, what we really want is we want ‘Flexible Organising’.

Where we’re both orderly, and ‘Flexible’ because we create structures that have flexibility. We can minimise errors and create efficiency, and accountability. And, that structure that’s ‘Flexible’ will improve innovation, accountability, teamwork, and productivity.

So, I’d like you to consider: Where are you? Or the members of your team on this paradox?

Because when it comes to ‘Adaptive Efficiency’, Stay curious!

With best regards,

David Klaasen

Talent4Performance help business leaders clarify complexity. We inspire people and drive continuous performance improvement, so they can convert thinking into action and results.

©David Klaasen – 2022