Strategic Teams and the Adaptive Enterprise

The assumption that every organization evolves is a good place to start the conversation about strategic teams and the adaptive enterprise. Organizations evolve in response to a host of technical, market, and economic forces. They evolve in response to changes in stakeholder interests and objectives. Changes in strategy and governance reflect the forces of organizational growth, performance and change. Strategic teams are essential agents of progress in the adaptive enterprise. They are essential as pathfinders, navigators, operators, and managers of the new and the next, whatever that next evolutionary station becomes.

So far, so good … but how can strategic teams power and sustain the adaptive enterprise?

What is an Adaptive Enterprise?

Let’s start with an updated definition of the adaptive enterprise. Based on more than 25 years of working with strategic teams and executives, we can define some basic criteria:

  • A Dual-Dynamic Mindset for Teams

Matching the near-term and the long-term intentions of teams with the natural goals of the organization and the natural tensions of the business environment. A mindset that considers, reflects, adapts and responds.


  • A Mature and Open-to-Influence Perspective

When leaders and operatives are savvy to the history of the business, the insights of the organization, and the future of the business, they have more options to work with and better evolutionary choices to consider.


  • A Culture of Readiness and Resolve

Readiness with knowledge, judgment, experience and operating systems; married to the resolve of engagement, courage, perseverance, learning, and improvisation. The collective impact of culture in action.

What Are the Advantages of an Adaptive Enterprise?

The adaptive enterprise is the one that takes care of today while it gets ready for tomorrow. It balances the challenges and conditions of the core business while it supports the development of adjacent and expansion options. It plays offense and defense. It lives with strategic paranoia and confidence, and at the same time, it works through systems and system disruptions.

The adaptive enterprise can run on different fuels. It deals well with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. It balances mission command and human compassion. It balances the formal and the informal, the attached and detached, the urgent with the patient. It is connected by trust, collaboration and power. It comprehends risk factors, challenges, scenarios, constraints and the cadence of effort and impact. It thrives and powers through as a Learning Organization. The adaptive enterprise flexes and extends.

The Adaptive Enterprise Depends on Strategic Teams and Talent

The talent that drives the modern adaptive enterprise is balanced in form and function, task and relationships, focus and competence, depth and reach. Our research for Strategic Teams and Development clearly points to the importance of Talent Blocks and Beams in the design of strategic teams for the adaptive enterprise. Matched with individual and group leadership attributes, strategic teams bring together these six Talent Blocks:

  • Technical Competence
    • Subject matter knowledge, experience
  • Analytic Competence
    • Data comprehension and decision framing
  • Creative Competence
    • Capacity for managing ideas, translations
  • Resource Competence
    • Capital, resources, systems, people, time
  • Solution Competence
    • Preventing, mitigating, managing problems
  • Relational Competence
    • Bringing out the very best in other people

With these Talent Blocks, strategic teams can become the drivers of growth, performance and change in today’s adaptive enterprise. They are the cultural and structural engines for the speed of change, the speed of trust, the speed of action, and the speed of impact.

The ideas defined above are the subject of our new fieldbook entitled Strategic Teams and Development planned for release early next year.  The fieldbook is designed as a resource for individuals and teams at every level of the enterprise.  From every angle, Strategic Teams and Development speaks to the ideas that contribute to better, stronger, smarter, faster teams that are focused on results and on making strategy happen, taking care of today and getting ready for tomorrow.

Daniel Wolf is the President of Dewar Sloan, a consulting group with expertise in strategy and governance.  He is the author of Strategic Teams and Developmentas well as Prepared and Resolved: The Strategic Agenda for Growth, Performance and Change.

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