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Adapt ahead of change - and win

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

In a fast changing and unpredictable world, high performance and success do not arise from meeting established standards or applying proven templates.

Standards and templated approaches are useful start points, yet relying on them leaves organisations vulnerable to failure for two crucial reasons. First, they are lag indicators because they represent past lessons not tomorrow’s needs. Second, they create change inertia – especially to any changes that challenge them.

The best indicator of future success in environments where the rules keep changing is the ability to proactively adapt to meet and to shape tomorrow’s needs - without first waiting for crises or failures to provide us with ‘lessons learned’ for us to apply.

In a world of emergent challenges this may seem impossible. However the reality is that almost all crises and failures are driven by factors that are visible beforehand. What we experience as unexpected, emergent challenges are almost always foreseeable at least as a possibility. The idea that it is inevitable that emergent, unforseeable things will happen is very largely a conventient myth (and an excuse for failure).

In that context, we need to be good at working seeing complex challenges that could influence future success, and acting now in ways that take them into account. For highly successful organisations this is more than just reacting quickly when things happen. Its about proactive adaptation in anticipation of future needs - before failures happen and long before most other organisations even know that change is even needed.

Welcome to RiskIQ’s world of applied systems thinking, where systemic lead indicators come together with powerful new approaches to decision making in uncertainty, risk management, leadership, and governance.

If you would like to check in on the key concepts involved and to run a simple, free test of your organisation’s ‘proactive capability agility’, contact us at

We’ll send you a link to a short survey that you can complete in just 10 minutes or so, followed by a one-page report that will indicate the kinds of questions you should be asking of yourself - and about your organisation’s capability to win in a changing world.

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1 Comment

Interesting read/concept

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