How to raise your employees’ capacity for change in just 10 minutes

In your next meeting, try out this short exercise.

“Go to a new page in your notebook. Thinking about your day from the moment you woke up, list at least ten ways you’ve adapted or navigated something new or unexpected. You have two minutes.“

Some will have no problem listing ten, but several people will struggle with this.

“Can we get a few examples of what was on your list?”

“I guarantee there are more ways you’ve adapted. We just don’t notice it. Now, work with a partner and I want each of you to come up with ten MORE ways you adapted today. Walk through your morning and prompt each other with possibilities. Think small. You have three minutes to compare your lists and discuss.”

“What were some of the new items that you thought of?”

The group will be getting more granular. Here are some answers I’ve had:

  • I was out of juice so had to have water this morning. Ugh.
  • My son needed a form signed this morning before school. It required his entire medical history!
  •  I forgot my lunch.
  • The coffee shop could only take cash this morning. Who carries cash??
  • I lost my pen. I’d like to adapt by borrowing yours!
  • The cat slept on the shirt I had chosen for work.
  • I couldn’t get a seat on the train. Had to stand.
  • The building was really busy this morning – I held the door for about six people.
  • Construction! It took 5 minutes longer to get to work.
  • I tried a new cereal.

“Take a new sheet and together with your partner identify 20 more changes, big or small, that you’ve navigated in the last 30 days. Take three minutes.” Ask for a sample of responses.

And now for the punchline:

We are adapting in hundreds of ways we don’t even think about every single day.  We constantly adjust to the presence of others on the road, the sidewalk, in our homes, and in our meetings. Circumstances continuously arise that trigger a ripple effect of micro-adaptations we quickly forget as we move on towards our daily goals.

The problem is that we’ve been taught to think change is hard. Most of the time it isn’t. The same skill and capacity you use every day to navigate small changes can be scaled up to apply to big changes, too. Working together, that pool of capabilities and resilience becomes infinite!

Send me a personal note to let me know how this works for you!

Thoughtfully yours,