A coaching model for adaptive behaviour

Adaptive behaviour:

Any behaviour that enables an organism to adjust to a particular situation or environment.


A simple model for adaptive behaviour:


Connect with others

Learn and adapt




How I, as a coach, use this model with you, as a client:

In my work with teams as a coach, instructor and consultant, I have learned or developed tools to get great results out of each step in this model.  Together we’ll work on questions like the following:  


What things are important to notice?

How can you get really good at noticing those things, things that will be important to you or your team or your family?  

How can you get good at choosing between what is important to notice and what isn’t?  How do you live with the ambiguity that you may be wrong?  Or right?  


Connect with others: 

How can you connect deeply with the people who can give the best help?

Who is the right person to connect to?

What if the right person is someone you are afraid of, like your boss?  

Or someone you don’t like, like a co-worker?

Or someone younger than you, or older, or different, or the same?

How can you use diversity to build the most resilient connections?


Learn and adapt:

How do you learn?  

How can you expand your learning styles to allow you to take in a wider variety of information and retain it better?  

Or give up what you’ve learned when it no longer serves you? 

Once you have learned, how do you apply that learning in the new context?

How do you gracefully give up old paradigms and adopt what will work now and in the future?



When you know what needs to be done, do you do it?

What might hold you back?  What might you be willing to let go? 

What action should you take, if any?  

How do you honour what you’ve learned in the past while you stay open to ambiguity, risk and potential?



Then, how do you stay energized, positive and open to starting all over again?

The Adaptive Coach – for business people at the edge of change

Time to replace the old paradigms?

In contrast to static engineered solutions which so often die on the vine, self-organized solutions survive and prosper and create organizational success.  Self-organizing, diverse, local solutions build adaptive capability in the path of ambiguity and chaos. People who choose to learn new paradigms skillfully respond to change in ways that matter to them.  They and their network become experts at change in their world, seeking more change, building the niches of the future.  They become more efficient and more effective at getting to what really matters to a business than any external program will ever be.  


All of life adapts at the edge of chaos.  The industrial revolution left us with a model of human interaction and human systems that we still have not given up.  We cling to the machine model of people because it is easy to measure, easy to tinker with and its failure to accomplish real change has created decades of work for consultants.  Those organizations who have pursued adaptive self-organization are living on the edge of an experiment millions of years old, and they have prospered and survived.  They beings who use this model are more likely to survive and prosper.  It’s time to start learning from them again.

Change and adaptation

Change happens without our consent, sometimes without our even noticing.  It occurs at the edges when we aren’t looking, in the inconvenient times and places, when we are least prepared and most overwhelmed.   


We all seek to control change.  We want to believe we can plan for the future.  Recent events are giving us reason to believe we may never be truly successful using our old models.  Businesses will try to put programs in place to plan for change or to make investments in externally designed programs on behalf of their stakeholders.  In fact, I have been responsible for some of those programs.  And what I noticed over the years was that “programs” that approach human systems, and human beings, as fixed machines with parts that can be swapped out for newer or different parts don’t give us what we expect.  


We call what we see “resistance to change” and try to put more controls in place.  Those controls meet even stronger resistance.  But it really is a smart human adaptation to reject these static solutions.  The challenge is to provide a different model than the one we have inherited from the factories of the 19th century.  The new model must take real human strengths and capabilities into account, strengths of individuals, and the strengths of a network of people.  Learning from the model life on earth has used for millions of years, we can adapt, quickly and effectively, and we can become resilient in the path of change.  


And that’s good for the bottom line.


The model that we see working in life on earth is something like this:


Adaptive beings notice things happening, connect with each other, learn and adapt, respond and later notice anew.  Over time they become adept at knowing what is important to notice, noticing those important things early, connecting effectively to their network, finding new ways to learn and adapt, and responding in ways that get the best result. 

More on using that model coming up…