The Adaptation Advantage

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2020-04-14
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc

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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


A guide for individuals and organizations navigating the complex and ambiguous Future of Work

Foreword by New York Times columnist and best-selling author Thomas L. Friedman

Technology is changing work as we know it. Cultural norms are undergoing tectonic shifts. A global pandemic proves that we are inextricably connected whether we choose to be or not. So much change, so quickly, is disorienting. It's undermining our sense of identity and challenging our ability to adapt. But where so many see these changes as threatening, Heather McGowan and Chris Shipley see the opportunity to open the flood gates of human potential—if we can change the way we think about work and leadership. They have dedicated the last 5 years to understanding how technical, business, and cultural shifts affecting the workplace have brought us to this crossroads, The result is a powerful and practical guide to the future of work for leaders and employees. The future can be better, but only if we let go of our attachment to our traditional (and disappearing) ideas about careers, and what a "good job" looks like.

Blending wisdom from interviews with hundreds of executives, The Adaptation Advantage explains the profound changes happening in the world of work and posits the solution: new ways to think about careers that detach our sense of pride and personal identity from our job title, and connect it to our sense of purpose. Activating purpose, the authors suggest, will inherently motivate learning, engagement, empowerment, and lead to new forms of pride and identity throughout the workforce. Only when we let go of our rigid career identities can we embrace and appreciate the joys of learning and adapting to new realities—and help our organizations do the same.

Of course, making this transition is hard. It requires leaders who can attract and motivate cognitively diverse teams fueled by a strong sense of purpose in an environment of psychological safety—despite fierce competition and external pressures.   Adapting to the future of work has always called for strong leadership. Now, as a pandemic disrupts so many aspects of work, adapting is a leadership imperative. The Adaptation Advantage is an essential guide to help leaders meet that challenge.

Author Biography

HEATHER E. MCGOWAN (www.heathermcgowan.com) is an in-demand, internationally known speaker and Future of Work Strategist. She assists corporate clients ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies in rethinking their business models, teams, and organizational structures to become resilient in changing markets.

CHRIS SHIPLEY (www.cshipley.com) spent thirty years entrenched in the technology industry as a journalist and technology analyst, observing and predicting business and social transformations brought about by digital innovation. She advises companies on positioning, business modeling, and innovation practices, and serves on the boards of several startups and advisory panels.

Table of Contents

Foreword xiv

Introduction xix

Breaking with Identity to Seize the Adaptation Advantage xix

So What’s Changing? xx

How Did We Get Here? xxi

How Big is the Challenge? xxii

The Adaptability Gap xxv

Amid Rapid Change, Keep Calm and Adapt On xxvi

So What’s in This Book? xviii

Who is This Book For? xxix

Notes xxx

Part I: Adapting at the Speed of Change 1

1 The World is Fast: Technology is Changing Everything and Planting Opportunity Everywhere 3

Wait a Second 3

Technological Climate Change 5

Environmental Climate Change 8

Climate Change of the Market 10

The Force of Three Amplifying and Interlocking Climate Changes 12

Notes 15

2 The Only Things Moving Faster Than Technology are Cultural and Social Norms 17

Shifting Ground Beneath Our Feet 17

From Linear and Local to Exponential and Global 19

Race 20

Religion 22

Age 23

Family 25

Gender Identity 25

Truth and Trust 26

Consent and Power Shifts 28

Death of Distance Reshapes Human Relationships 30

So, Who are You? Occupational Identity and Expertise 30

Notes 32

3 You’re Already Adapting and Not Even Noticing 35

We’ve Already Begun to Outsource Our Memory 35

People Aren’t Horses 37

Atomization, Automation, and Augmentation 38

Atomization in Action 39

Automation in Action 39

Augmentation in Action 41

Putting Atomization, Automation, and Augmentation Together 41

Notes 46

4 Getting Comfortable with Adaptation: The Slowest Rate of Change is Happening Now 47

The Power of Pause 47

From Scalable Efficiency to Scalable Learning 48

From Stocks to Flows of Knowledge 53

From Learning to Work to Working to Learn Continuously 54

Identifying Patterns to Build Bridges 56

Notes 60

Part II: Letting Go and Learning Fast to Thrive 63

5 What Do You Do for a Living? The Question That Traps Us in the Past 65

The Questions That Limit Our Identity 65

The Identity Trap 71

How Identity is Formed 71

Narratives Can Trap Us in the Past and Limit Our Future 73

Gender, Narratives, and Identity 73

The Confidence Gap 74

Identity is Never Done 77

An Occupational Identity Crisis Isn’t Limited to Job Loss 78

Notes 80

6 Finding the Courage to Let Go of Occupational Identity 83

What Does the Parable of the Three Stonecutters Have to Do with You? 83

The Day 1 Mindset: You are a Prototype; Start with Why 85

How Job Loss Can Be a Gain 89

Modeling Vulnerability: We Share Our Hard Lessons 91

What Do You Do Now? 95

Notes 95

7 Learning Fast: Why an Agile Learning Mindset is Essential 97

Learn Fast—What Does That Even Mean? 97

What Do We Mean by Learning? First-, Second-, and Third-Generation Learning Organizations 98

The S-Curve of Learning: Explore, Experiment, Execute, Expand 99

The Curse of Expertise: The Challenge of Unlearning 102

The Iceberg: The Substance Beneath the Surface 102

Identity: The Core of the Adaptive Mind 103

The Agile Learning Mindset 104

The Enablers: Uniquely Human Skills 108

Why We Need the Agile Mindset: The Broken Education-to-Work Pipeline 111

ABL: Always Be Learning 114

Notes 114

8 Rise of the Humans: Developing Your Creativity, Empathy, and Other Uniquely Human Capabilities 117

Play is the Way Forward 117

The Uniqueness of the Human Drive to Learn and Create 119

The Predictive Markets Declare Future Skills Favor Humans 122

Understanding Uniquely Human Skills 127

Chasing STEM at Our Peril 128

The Skills Battleground: Humans Need Apply 132

The Return on Being Human 133

Return on Humans for All Jobs: The Special Power of Empathy 134

Evolving Beyond Shareholder Value: The Purpose of a Company 135

To Maximize Human Potential, Place the Human in the Center 137

Notes 139

Part III: Leading People and Organizations in the Evolution of Work 143

9 Leading in Continuous Change: Modeling Vulnerability, Learning from Failure, and Providing the Psychological Safety that Builds Trusting Teams 145

You are at the Wheel 146

Leadership, Power, Cookies, and Chickens 146

What Makes a Modern Leader? 153

Transformational Leadership 167

Transformational Leadership and Change Management Models 168

Leading with Fear: The Burning Platform 170

Putting It All Together 173

Notes 173

10 The Adaptive Organization: Creating the Capacity to Change at the Speed of Technology, Market, and Social Evolution 175

What Should We Measure? 175

The Power of the Culture and Capacity Focus 177

Culture at the Core 177

Capacity: Culture’s Partner 184

Capability and Context: The Scissors Metaphor 186

In Accelerated Change, Focus on the Inputs Rather Than the Outputs 187

Becoming a Learning Company 190

Notes 193

11 Capability is King: Looking Beyond the Resume to Design Your Adaptive Team 195

No More Little Boxes 195

The Job Description is History 197

Job Descriptions Become Traps 198

Fire Your Job Description 200

Hire for Cultural Alignment 205

Hire Adults and Let Them Do Their Jobs 208

Turn the Right People into Great Teams 209

Embrace Cognitive Diversity 212

Get Comfortable with Failure 214

Live in a State of Continuous Learning 215

Manage a Multigenerational Workforce 216

How Do We Get from Here to There? 217

The New Leadership Imperative 218

Notes 219

12 Getting Ready to Seize Your Adaptation Advantage 221

Notes 223

Additional Resources 225

Books 225

Videos 226

Acknowledgments 227

About the Authors 229

Index 231

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