How to Cultivating an Adaptive Mindset

“The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”- Alvin Toffler.

Dramatic changes are overwhelming us every day, and we are watching them accelerate at a pace like never before. We witnessed how the world can go from normal to a complete state of abnormality or the ‘new normal’ as we call it, within hours. Under these rapidly changing circumstances, the mantra to sustain has been and continues to be – learning, unlearning, and relearning. 

This cycle of learning, unlearning and relearning demands open-mindedness. In other words, it demands an adaptive mindset, which emphasizes being receptive to newer and different ideas, perspectives, and information. Critical and rational understanding of a subject requires you to step outside of your comfort zone and explore the different aspects to come up with one or more solutions.

Today, advanced digital technologies and tools have made receiving and sharing information super seamless and time-savvy. In such a dynamic scenario, one must continue to nurture their thought process by adapting to newer approaches, concepts, and methodologies.

Why do we need an adaptive mindset in our professional life?

Adaptive thinking is crucial for professional development because it:

1. Equips you to go against any challenges.

If you accept any misfortune or mishap that has happened, it gets easier to think about how you intend to deal with the consequences. This holds true in your personal and professional life. The latter, more so than ever because there is always a chance of things not working out exactly how you planned on them, in which case it is your resilience and refreshed mindset that is going to get you through the adversity.

2. Makes you a relevant and valued employee.

The way a job is done or a job description is dynamic and subject to change with time. For this reason, employers look for workers who can adapt to a change in function or environment gracefully. The more updated you are with the latest technologies, workplace systems, tools, and business strategies, the higher your value is to all employers.

3. Allows you to be a better and a natural leader.

A good leader has to be focused, motivated, and most importantly, have an open-minded outlook. By welcoming and adapting to change yourself, you set an example for your co-workers, thus inspiring them to do the same. 

4. Keeps you feeling content and helps you adapt to career changes

A change in the work environment can cause severe stress. However, if you train yourself to predict it and adapt to it better, you will feel more at ease. It will build your self-confidence and independence, so if there is ever a bump in your career, you can deal with the stress and make the best of the situation at hand. 


The pillars of adaptive thinking

1. Learning

The World Economic Forum in 2018 published a report on the skill sets that will be imperative for career building. Among those, “active learning and learning strategies” was cited as one of the essential skills for the year 2022.

Although the solution to having an adaptive mindset is learning, and information is available on everything under the sun upon the click of your mouse, the challenge lies in figuring out what to learn. The “what” can be identified if you focus on short, medium, and long-term goals. 

Get down to the basics and proceed to identify the advanced prerequisites for attaining those goals. If your goal is to prepare for a higher role or improve yourself in the current role you are working in, focus on those particular skill-sets. You must follow the cycle of learning, unlearning, and relearning whenever necessary.

2. Unlearning 

In simple words, unlearning is the insight or skill of giving up on whatever does not hold true, helpful, or relevant in any way. Just as we learn about the trends changing, we need to unlearn older trends and patterns to succeed.

The key is not to remain restricted to methodologies, technologies, and approaches that you’ve learned so far. Instead, you must always keep an open mindset. When you unlearn, you try to look at things from all different angles, thus, gaining a better understanding of a specific situation and, eventually make informed decisions.

Relearning: The Extended Cycle

One must realize when to give up some idea or information if it is no longer relevant or true. Holding on to something that no longer brings personal or business benefits will always result in losses, monetary or non-monetary. For instance, leaders need to unlearn their strategies to succeed from the past to prolong their streak of success at present. 

Similarly, there is a limited shelf-life for the skills that one may have. There is no skill that doesn’t demand specific tweaks and refinements for staying relevant. Whether it is technology-related or otherwise, you must continuously strive to stay relevant in the job market. This applies to habits and behaviors, too, as it helps create the perfect work-life balance and boosts your mental and physical well-being. 

However, the cycle does not stop with learning and unlearning. The process of relearning is crucial as it involves upgrading your knowledge based upon current trends and changes. For example, the more updated processing cores you add to your devices, the more effective and boosted their performance will be. Similarly, the more updated information you learn, the more chances there are for you to accomplish.

When this healthy habit is cultivated, every mistake will present new opportunities to learn and improve. The process of unlearning and relearning can be jolted down to three main focus points:

Willingness to accept a new challenge that comes your way.

The desire to embrace a new thought process, idea, information, or perspective.

Developing perseverance in the face of unforeseen adversity.

1. Agile vs. Adaptive

Over the past year and a half, the global populace has undergone significant changes to thrive during the pandemic. While individuals had to make personal decisions to stay safe and sound, businesses had to navigate their way carefully in their respective markets. 

In March 2020, around 13 million people in Latin America purchased online for the first time due to a strict lockdown. E-commerce sales, which is sales via the internet, jumped post-April 2020 in the United States. China, the first country which reported COVID-19 cases in 2019, is expecting its online grocery market to grow by 63% in 2021. This report published in Forbes mentions that the majority of the consumers in Europe will continue to purchase online even after the pandemic ends. 

Deriving from the above figures, it is clear that several companies which had never previously gone online had to switch to cater to the needs of the consumers. Such businesses which initiate changes are more adaptive. 

Several businesses have failed to adapt and have suffered as a result. Polaroid, for example, hadn’t developed its software offering. With the advent of mobile phone cameras, Polaroid was suffering heavy losses. An in-depth study on this case revealed that the reason for the company’s non-adaptive nature was a panel of leaders who were obstinate when it came to re-designing their product. 

Non-compliance of businesses to societal changes can be traced along with the several industrial revolutions that have taken place in the past. 

On the other hand, a counterexample and one of the best adaptive business models that have shown an insatiable appetite for change is Amazon. Over the years, the company has made the best use of data and automation. In fact, the most recent attempt of Amazon to invade digital advertising shows that the company is willing to explore newer means, strategies, and techniques.

2. Early Adopters and Laggards

Jeff Bezos, the founder and executive chairman of Amazon, is an “early adopter” according to the Diffusion of Innovation theory, developed by E.M. Rogers. 

Roger’s theory establishes that early adopters are those who embrace change in society. It is only after early adopters like Bezos, will an early majority of people adopt those new ideas, strategies, or products. While the panel at Polaroid, who refused to adapt, fall under the category of “Laggards” as they are bound by the company’s tradition and are conservative in nature. 

3. Technological Change

Technology by itself has to develop constantly with time. This process is known as Technological change (TC). To be a pioneer or an innovator in the technological field and bring innovations that solve real-world business problems or adds value to an existing solution, one must have an adaptive mindset. Adding to that, several other skills, such as originality, creativity, and analytical thinking, will come in handy.

Master Adaptive Thinking with upGrad

Adaptive thinking is a core facet of management. Managers and industry leaders are the epitome of adaptive thinking – they are the pioneers and early adopters of new methodologies, approaches, and tools. If you too wish to again adaptive thinking skills, you need to check out these upGrad courses:

1. Master of Business Administration (MBA) Liverpool Business School (18 months)

  • Get dual degrees – MBA degree from Liverpool Business School and PGP Management from IMT Ghaziabad.
  • This course is recognized by World Education Services
  • Experience a one-week induction program at the university campus
  • Be mentored by industry leaders and interact with industrial leaders
  • Advance in your career and receive 360-degree career support
  • Pick specializations that appeal the most to you.
  • Receive dual alumni status, one by the Liverpool Business School and another by IMT Ghaziabad

2. Product Management Certification Program (6 months)

  • Ranked #3 Executive Education by Financial Times
  • Receive DUKE CE Certifications
  • Unlimited access to content for three years
  • One to one mentorship from product experts
  • Build your own captivating resume

To Wrap it up

We are currently witnessing the fourth industrial revolution, which is technology-driven like never before. This era is focused upon harnessing technologies to create a rather inclusive culture and future. It has brought about a fundamental change in the way people lead their lives. The courses suggested above will direct you and help you learn the ways of the metaverse. 

Everything comes down to adapting and navigating through newer avenues and overcoming challenges.

How much do experienced Project Managers earn in the USA?

According to Payscale, a senior project manager can earn an average annual salary of $102,477, going up to $111,820.

Is doing an MBA going to make a difference?

Yes, an MBA degree will make a difference. People with an MBA degree have the edge over business graduates as they learn how to communicate effectively and add more value to businesses in today’s increasingly competitive business world. Doing an MBA is essential, especially if you are looking to become an entrepreneur.

Is pursuing a management course a good idea?

Yes, it is an excellent idea for aspirants. There’s always a high demand for skilled and certified managers across all parallels of the industry. Thus, getting a management degree or certification will make you a valued asset for any company.

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