TDE’s Robert Kegan: Adaptable Workforces Key to Winning in Uncertain Economy

“The number one challenge facing businesses today is adaptability,” says human capital expert, Dr. Robert Kegan, a Harvard professor and Chief Knowledge Officer at The Developmental Edge (TDE), formerly Way to Grow INC.

“During Globalization, companies needed to develop new strategies as they rapidly accessed markets and conducted business across a borderless globe,” continues Kegan. “Today, in an era of Slowbalization, winning companies need to better help their people grow into the new roles and challenges of a changing economy.”

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Kegan and his colleague, TDE CEO Andy Fleming, argue that this imperative for adaptability will distinguish companies during a challenging economic environment.

“You can’t just grow in the good times. You have to be able to grow in the challenging times,” adds Fleming.

Fleming, Kegan and several Harvard colleagues co-authored the award-winning An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization (Harvard Business Review Press, 2016). A Deliberately Developmental Organization is a company that approaches people development not as a “nice-to-have” but as a deliberate, strategic choice, one that enables them to win in the marketplace. DDO examples include Bridgewater Associates, which was profiled in the book.

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“The C-suite is understandably nervous as it watches the stock market go up and down,” says Kegan. “They are asking themselves: Can those so-so frontline managers, buoyed by an excellent economy, really deliver as we head into the next 18 months? If we acquire a competitor to protect our market will the merger work? Or will it fall apart?”

TDE’s processes are rooted in the globally recognized Immunity to Change process, created by Kegan and fellow TDE Chief Knowledge Officer Dr. Lisa Lahey. Through ITC and The Developmental Sprint, adults undergo transformative psychological changes, allowing them to meet the more intense demands of modern work.

Fleming continues, “In the next six to 12 months, companies are likely to go into hiring freezes, or engage in mergers and acquisitions. It is critical that during this same period companies invest in helping their workforce gain an adaptive mindset. Winning companies will be able to adapt to new economic challenges because their workforce knows how to adapt to new work challenges.”

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