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? rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.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:
- Making Meaning
- When we see or hear the goings-on around us, we interpret them to make meaning and significance. Some
interpretations are thoughtful, but most are almost instantaneous. Since the instantaneous ones are
sometimes goofy or dangerous, here's a look at how we make interpretations.
- It's a Wonderful Day!
- Most knowledge workers are problem solvers. We work towards goals. We anticipate problems as best we
can, and when problems appear, we solve them. But our focus on anticipating problems can become a problem
in itself — at work and in Life.
- 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.
- Deciding to Change: Choosing
- When organizations decide to change what they do, the change sometimes requires that they change how
they make decisions, too. That part of the change is sometimes overlooked, in part, because it affects
most the people who make decisions. What can we do about this?
- Congruent Decision-Making: II
- Decision-makers who rely on incomplete or biased information are more likely to make decisions that
don't fit the reality of their organizations. Here's Part II of a framework for making decisions that fit.
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming April 1: Incompetence: Traps and Snares
- Sometimes people judge as incompetent colleagues who are unprepared to carry out their responsibilities. Some of these "incompetents" are trapped or ensnared in incompetence, unable to acquire the ability to do their jobs. Available here and by RSS on April 1.
- And on April 8: Intentionally Misreporting Status: I
- When we report the status of the work we do, we sometimes confront the temptation to embellish the good news or soften the bad news. How can we best deal with these obstacles to reporting status with integrity? Available here and by RSS on April 8.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.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, )
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, )
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, )
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
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.