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9 Cultural Norms That Foster Continuous Change and Improvement, Part III: Resiliency

“Resilience often entails responding well to an external event. Adaptability moves us from enduring a challenge to thriving beyond it. We don’t just “bounce back” from difficult situations – we “bounce forward” into new realms, learning to be more adaptable as circumstances evolve and change….” (McKinsey).

How can we create corporate cultures that enable a shared and agile approach to enacting significant and enduring departures from the shackles of the status quo? I’m currently writing a series on the subject, 9 Cultural Norms That Foster Continuous Change and Innovation. These are cultural attributes that I have learned in my more than 20 years as a serial Change Master, ground organizations in the envisionment of, planning for and execution of transformative change.

  1. Unwavering Commitment
  2. Results Focus
  3. Resiliency
  4. Innovative Thinking & Action
  5. Transparency
  6. Empowerment
  7. Accountability
  8. Inclusivity and Belonging
  9. Inclusive Approach to Conflict Resolution

In this blog I focus on Resiliency. See my earlier blogs on Unwavering Commitment and Results Focus at

Great change masters practice resiliency, moving to high levels of adaptability and agility. They have the ability to see around corners and pick up on emerging trends. They in turn know how to mobilize their teams to get out ahead to disrupt or avoid catching themselves on the competitive defense.

By becoming open to and aware of change in the moment, leaders and organizations maintain control over uncertainty before pressures build to the point where course correction is potentially not an option.

Change masters with resilient, adaptable mindsets see challenges and mistakes as opportunities for learning and development. They are curious and ask lots of questions and know how to ask the right questions. They explore the viability of new approaches.

Leading with purpose, they are empowered and empower stakeholders to explore new possibilities and experimentation, often leading to innovative, first mover solutions. They know that the best way to succeed is to build resilience into the cultural norms of their organizations by planning ahead and being flexible and curious as they go.

Research shows that the presence of resiliency leading to adaptability and agility is a critically important cultural norm during periods of disruptive change. Resiliency leading to agility leads to speed and the ability to continuously learn, and, in turn, innovate.

I’m reminded of a client, an extremely accomplished thoracic surgeon, at a well-regarded hospital system, who foresaw the emergence of robotic technology to aid in the execution of a highly specialized form of heart surgery — technology, that if used expertly, could positively impact efficiency and effectiveness and in turn mortality rates. The change master he is, he thoughtfully introduced the method to his team. They are now among the top users of such technology reporting highly positive outcomes, helping to reinforce the hospital’s reputation as an innovative leader in thoracic surgery.

Under stress and when problem solving, we tend to default to patterns we have learned and seen before – the status quo. This may hinder our ability to adapt and respond in ways that are most optimal, taking advantage of, for example, technology enabled solutions. If we can recognize when we are moving to our default mindset and push ourselves to see multiple perspectives, we are presented with many more possibilities. As circumstances become more complex we are well advised to shift into resilient, adaptable learning mindsets.

I coached a client who was struggling with how best to deal with burn-out of his employees. He had what’s called an “expert” mindset, feeling like he should have all the answers. In fact, he didn’t. Once he agreed to opening his mind to the pursuit of different perspectives and accessing the experience of subject matter experts he began to envision new and different ways of getting work done, making decisions and more.

He was able to admit that he was defaulting to a status-quo mindset based on what he had learned and seen. Once he opened up to the possibility of new and different solutions he was able to inclusively solve for the burnout issue. He moved to an adaptable mindset and an agile approach to solving for the burn-out problem.

Committing to building relationships with a diverse mix of trusted colleagues helps to create an adaptable mindset. Research has shown such connections reinforce trust in the possibility and its achievability and continuous learning. The investment into the development of highly trusted and trusting relationships where individual and shared accountability and a results focus are emphasized also create safe environments to learn and ask questions.

Self-awareness and reflection are critical to creating resilience, leading to adaptable mindsets and agile approaches to optimizing for breakthrough outcomes. Are you and your organization positioned to respond to the emergence of exogenous developments before you are faced with the imperative to do so? Don’t hesitate to be in touch at or a free consultation and download my 5 Secrets to Becoming a Change Master.

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