About 11,000 years ago, the climate in North America warmed. Glaciers melted, rainfall patterns changed, and the differences between summer and winter increased. The Mastodon, which thrived in a cool climate, suddenly found life difficult. A specialist, it couldn't adapt fast enough. It was under stress.
At about the same time, humans appeared in force. Some scientists believe that human hunting and other activity also contributed to stress on the Mastodon, both directly and indirectly.
When the climate warmed, and their food disappeared, and humans started hunting them, the Mastodons couldn't respond. Extinction followed.
Are you adaptable? Or are you a Mastodon?
Because adaptability gives companies a competitive edge, they train us in Organizational Change. They talk about organizational agility as a corporate asset.
But many companies send mixed messages. Though they extol organizational agility, they still hire specialists, instead of people with proven ability to learn and adapt. They pay premiums for specialized skills, and even promote on the basis of proven specialized competencies.
If you work for an
"agile organization," it pays
to be pretty agile yourselfSuch organizations tend to employ specialized professionals who find it difficult to adapt. When these organizations need new skills, they hire them, or they outsource. They jettison specialists they no longer need — their mastodons.
If you work in an "agile organization," and you're a highly specialized professional, you can't be certain how long that environment will remain friendly to your specialization. And unless you can adapt to the coming changes, you'll become extinct.
How can you avoid extinction?
- Get ahead of the climate
- Be attentive to professional climate changes — the big, slow changes in your industry and profession. If you were a secretary or administrative assistant in 1985, you had to be a good typist. Computer skills were a nice plus, but not essential. Now, typewriters are irrelevant.
- New technologies and new ways of doing business can change everything. To avoid extinction, learn about five-year trends in your profession. Get ahead of the climate.
- Stay close to your food sources
- Your food sources are your company's customers. Are the products and services that you help produce attracting more and more customers? Or are they losing customers?
- If they're losing customers, consider an internal transfer or a hop to a company that's gaining customers year after year. Stay close to your food sources.
- Outrun the hunters
- Your hunters are professional skills that substitute for the skills you have. For instance, if you're a COBOL expert in an IT organization, Web-based technologies have reduced the value of your skills. You'll either have to find a company that's Web-averse, or learn Web-based technologies, or find another career.
- If your specialty is mature, target a new, fast-growing specialty and become an early expert. Outrun the hunters.
Love the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenLLtPijSRNRXSvVTiner@ChacwqMNcZxwpPMXOgyqoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- FedEx, Flocks, and Frames of Reference
- Your point of view — or reference frame — affects what you see, and how you experience the
world around you. By choosing a reference frame consciously, you can see things differently, and open
a universe of new choices.
- Dealing with Deadlock
- At times it seems that nothing works. Whenever we try to get moving, we encounter obstacles. If we try
to go around them, we find more obstacles. How do we get stuck? And how can we get unstuck?
- Ten Reasons Why You Don't Always Get What You Measure: III
- The phrase "You get what you measure," has acquired the status of "truism." Yet
many measurement-based initiatives have produced disappointing results. Here's Part III of an examination
of the idea — a look at management's role in these surprises.
- Why Do Business Fads Form?
- The rise of a business fad is due to the actions of both its advocates and adopters. Understanding the
interplay between them is essential for successful resistance.
- How to Get Out of Firefighting Mode: I
- When new problems pop up one after the other, we describe our response as "firefighting."
We move from fire to fire, putting out flames. How can we end the madness?
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 25: Workplace Memes
- Some patterns of workplace society reduce organizational effectiveness in ways that often escape our notice. Here are five examples. Available here and by RSS on October 25.
- And on November 1: Risk Creep: I
- Risk creep is a term that describes the insidious and unrecognized increase in risk that occurs despite our every effort to mitigate risk or avoid it altogether. What are the dominant sources of risk creep? Available here and by RSS on November 1.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenBtpTQGeAEIEBZSsHner@ChacNwocuvaUYYcyPpmUoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, USD 28.99)
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info
- Ten Project Management Fallacies: The Power of Avoiding Hazards
- Most of what we know about managing projects is useful and effective, but some of what we know "just ain't so." Identifying the fallacies of project management reduces risk and enhances your ability to complete projects successfully. Even more important, avoiding these traps can demonstrate the value and power of the project management profession in general, and your personal capabilities in particular. In this program we describe ten of these beliefs. There are almost certainly many more, but these ten are a good start. We'll explore the situations where these fallacies are most likely to expose projects to risk, and suggest techniques for avoiding them. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
- Your stuff is brilliant! Thank you!
- You and Scott Adams both secretly work here, right?
- I really enjoy my weekly newsletters. I appreciate the quick read.
- A sort of Dr. Phil for Management!
- …extremely accurate, inspiring and applicable to day-to-day … invaluable.