It used to be okay to settle for work that didn't excite you, but if you're going to compete with others who are adept at adapting, you're going to need to learn how to become an adaptive problem solver, too.
- Look, our constantly changing world isn't going to slow down anytime soon. So rule number two of the New Rules of Work is be an adaptive problem solver. Let's start by looking at the fundamentals of work. Why do we get paid for the work that we do? It's to solve problems and to generate results. How do we solve problems? We perform tasks. And how do we perform those tasks? We use our skills.
So here's the sequence. We use our skills to perform tasks and solve problems to generate results. For example, a fast food company has problems like getting food into the hands of happy customers and getting paid for it. Tasks such as taking orders and making change are performed using skills like listening, handling money, making change, and so on. And the result should be that food gets delivered into the hands of a happy customer and money gets deposited into a cash register.
Or, a consulting company has problems like helping clients develop complex market strategies. Tasks such as conducting research programs and engaging in strategy design, are performed using skills like analyzing, interviewing, synthesizing, and writing. And the result is a happy client who has a new strategy. In a rapidly changing world, successful workers will increasingly be the ones who seek out problems to be solved, and who come up with creative ways to solve them and to generate results.
But the problems we're asked to solve tomorrow probably won't be the problems we're solving today. That's why we need to be adaptive. The work world will constantly change. So we'll need to learn how to continually adapt. Even once we've picked up a kind of work we very much want to perform, we have to be prepared to do a completely different kind of work in the future. Now what does it mean to be adaptive? Here are three characteristics. Adaptive workers are continually aware and they're always on the lookout for changes in their work environment.
They ask questions and they're constantly trying to understand the changing dynamics of their work. Adaptive workers are continually innovating. They don't fall in love with any particular way of doing something. Instead, they're constantly looking for new ways to solve problems. Adaptive workers are continually learning. They don't assume they know everything about their work. In a constantly changing work environment, they know there will always be something new to learn.
Let's face it, if you thrive on stability, you'll need to look even harder in the future for work situations that don't change on a regular basis. Now the good news is that in a world of constant change, we can increasingly use technology to help us solve those problems. Technology can amplify our skills, allowing us to do things we couldn't necessarily do on our own. I haven't the slightest clue how to do a pivot table by hand, but I can use a spreadsheet to run calculations that I couldn't possibly perform otherwise.
So technology itself can help us to be far more adaptive. If we're all going to be adaptive problem solvers, we need to be flexible in our thinking, bringing creativity to the process of solving those problems. And if we're going to be increasingly chosen to solve problems, we need to be more adaptive in our thinking.
- Why there are new rules of work, learning, and life
- Thinking like an entrepreneur
- Building your network
- Doing work driven by meaning
- Understanding the new rules of learning
- Becoming a lifelong learner
- Planning for leisure like you plan for work and learning
- Making time to give back
- What to do when the rules change again