Adaptive Leadership Workshop

This workshop is excellent for any individual and organization consulting on adaptive leadership, community engagement and collective impact.  Your team should provide new perspectives and new energy. Our Director makes sure we get these trainings and every Friday we have hour trainings on something that will help our work for the better.

01/2019 8:30am – 3:30pm

I was the first one to ask if Breakfast and Lunch were provided and yes you want to include that when training your staff they’ll talk about you forever 30-60 days in advance ask for a sponsor if it goes against the budget.


Identify challenges you or your coalition are currently facing in order to achieve your result in a powerful way?

Technical Challenges: challenges that are able to be solved through past experience and existing capacity; there is a formula or recipe; people don’t have to change.

Adaptive Challenges:  challenges that are outside our expertise, experience, and capacity. They also often require changes in people’s habits, beliefs, and loyalties.

Common Archetypes of Adaptive Challenges:

• Gap between stated values/aspirations and actions

• Outside our current capacity and technical knowledge

• Competing interest/priorities

• New stakeholders must be engaged

• People must work across boundaries

• Problem is systemic, crosses boundaries

• Difficult learning required

• Elephants in the room, much is  unspoken

• Nonlinear progress is required

• Recurring problem

• There are casualties and losses

• Emotionally fraught

• Work avoidance is main response

Address Common Work Avoidance Mechanisms:

• Focus only on technical parts and technical fixes

• Define problem to fit capacity

• Turn down heat on discussion

• Deny problem exists

• Create a proxy fight, like a personality conflict

• Take options off the table to honor legacy behaviors

• Marginalize person raising the issue

• Scapegoat someone

• Externalize enemy

• Attack authority

• Delegate adaptive work to those who can’t do anything about it

What are the facts on the ground about your challenge? What do you observe? (not what do you interpret, stick to observable facts)

The Adaptive Process:

1. Resist the leap to action. Get off the dance floor and onto the balcony for perspective.

2. Give the work back to people closest to challenge, maintain disciplined attention, and regulate their distress.

3. Separate technical from adaptive challenges.

4. Share alternative interpretations; understand and test mental models.

5. Observe, diagnose, hypothesize, propose, act, and test.

Mental Models: the ways in which we view the world and shape our beliefs, behaviors, and approach to solving problems. They are formed consciously or unconsciously by our ideas, relationships, and experiences. They explain cause and effect for us, lead us to expect certain results, give meaning to events, and predispose us to behave in certain ways.

Ladder of Inference: describes the thinking process that we go through, usually without realizing it, to get from a fact to a decision to action. We observe reality; we select a part of it, interpret it, make assumptions, draw conclusions, form beliefs, and act.

Options for Action: When solving complex problems, it can be helpful to frame options as a choice. When we propose options for action, it can be helpful to identify what we trade off by making that choice. Every choice has tradeoffs.

Burdens of Proof: One way to gain consensus on a difficult choice is to invite group members to identify what would have to be true for them to commit to a choice. Rather than criticizing an option, group members identify information that would help them commit. Once you have identified some key burdens of proof, you can establish agreed upon ways of testing those items to see if they hold true or not.

Identify options for action. What tradeoffs are involved in each option? How will you test them?

Change Management Principles:

1. Recognize people have different adaptive capacities.

2. Signal change early.

3. Focus less on your excitement about the change; focus more on empathy for others’ stress.

4. Disclose why and how decisions were made, whether they are firm and what role or influence other still have.

5. Acknowledge trade-offs and losses.

6. Clearly describe change process; give people responsibilities in the process.

Tips for Difficult Conversations:

1. Move from “my truth” to “my perception”, from blame to contribution, from intention to impact.

2. Share my story and own my stake in my story (my identity or emotional stake).

3. Listen to their story of what happened (ask clarifying questions, paraphrase back).

4. Create a “bridge story” that includes both viewpoints as legitimate, work on the difference between stories.

Communication, outreach, and increased civic participation in disengaged communities.

What are your current outreach practices?

What communities aren’t being effectively informed?

What barriers exist between interested parties and participation in civic works?

I’m confident enough to lead conversations.

Ranisha Grice

Community Engagement

Community Outreach

Community Relations

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