Adaptability is a key Leadership skill

by Terrill Fischer

“Never underestimate the power of improvisation to turn an unpopular change into a winning strategy.” ~ Forbes

In the movie Moneyball, Brad Pitt’s character ‘Billy Beane’, the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team is having a frank discussion with one of his scouts about the future of scouting for the team. Here is the scene:

In business as in life we find things are constantly changing. We can either adapt or die. Billy Beane’s scout didn’t want to adapt to the new scouting philosophy. Billy was saying this what we are doing and we’re not turning back.

Anticipating change is important so an effective plan can be put into place and knowing that there will be changes to it. That requires being open to changing it. Billy Beane saw his team couldn’t compete with the teams that had more money to spend on players. So he had to devise a different plan to finding players. Billy had to adjust to changes in how to see the game, he had to implement and manage the change.

He modeled some key elements of improvisation. He showed flexibility in how he was going change his way of doing things. He was open to accepting and embracing change.

Learning improvisational communication allows for outside the box thinking. Billy had to think in whole different way to rebuilding and managing his team. The scouts that were unwilling to accept the change were let go or quit.

When we allow ourselves to become more flexible and let go of their preconceived ideas we’ll see the new opportunities that open up. Billy’s team learned to let go of their approach to the game and start using their own strengths to play it better which helped them the break the Major League record for most consecutive wins during a season.

Billy Beane encountered failures with making changes. But he knew there were going to fail if he didn’t do anything to change the team. Making big changes moves people out of their comfort zones and supports them in taking risks, embracing mistakes and exploring their own creativity.

So how do you learn to embrace change? We’ve found using improvisational exercises provides tools and techniques that people can practice and implement on accepting and embracing change. Experiential and improv games cause participants to get out of their comfort zone and take risks. They learn to how to experience failure and bounce back quickly. We learn that how to accept offers and build on them to see what new opportunities might open up. Then we can start to change our attitudes and see our behavioral choices expand so the process of confidently dealing with change begins.