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? rbrenKRkodQWVWkKUBKQpner@ChacoALcvDEzZpZnDNnuoCanyon.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:
- Doorknob Disclosures and Bye-Bye Bombshells
- A doorknob disclosure is an uncomfortable, painful, or embarrassing revelation offered at the end of
a meeting or conversation, usually by someone who's about to exit. When we learn about bad news in this
way, we can feel frustrated and trapped. How can we respond effectively?
- Problem-Solving Ambassadors
- In dispersed teams, we often hold meetings to which we send delegations to work out issues of mutual
interest. These working sessions are a mix of problem solving and negotiation. People who are masters
of both are problem-solving ambassadors, and they're especially valuable to dispersed or global teams.
- Teamwork Myths: I vs. We
- In high performance teams, cooperative behavior is a given. But in the experience of many, truly cooperative
behavior is so rare that they believe that something fundamental is at work — that cooperative
behavior requires surrendering the self, which most people are unwilling to do. It's another teamwork myth.
- Finding Work in Tough Times: Communications
- Finding work in tough times entails presenting yourself to many people. You'll be conversing, interviewing,
writing, presenting, and when you're finally successful, negotiating.
- You Might Be Stressed If…
- A little stress once in a while keeps us sharp, but chronic intense stress shortens lives. Stress can
build gradually, out of our awareness. Here are some indicators of chronic intense stress.
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming August 22: Dealing with Credit Appropriation
- Very little is more frustrating than having someone else claim credit for the work you do. Worse, sometimes they blame you if they get into trouble after misusing your results. Here are three tips for dealing with credit appropriation. Available here and by RSS on August 22.
- And on August 29: Please Reassure Them
- When things go wildly wrong, someone is usually designated to investigate and assess the probability of further trouble. That role can be risky. Here are three guidelines for protecting yourself if that role falls to you. Available here and by RSS on August 29.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenTXFknyIPVUgTJMYgner@ChacpXJfhNXwoFjqfqVuoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, 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
- 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.