Collaborative Adaptation: Definition & Importance

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Collaborative adaptation is all about how your team approaches and handles change. In this lesson, you'll learn more about this characteristic and how you can encourage and facilitate it in your teams.


The marketing team at Electronics Crunch, which consists of a director, coordinator, social media manager and graphic designer, has always worked well together. They've navigated numerous product launches, marketing campaigns and industry events in their time as a team.

Recently, a few members of the team have left the company for different opportunities. It started with the graphic designer, who left in March, followed by the social media manager, whose departure came in May. The company hired new employees for each position, a few months apart, and added two additional roles to the team. The only problem is that each time the team changes, they have difficulty readjusting to the new dynamic.

What the team needs in order to successfully navigate these changes is to practice collaborative adaptation.

What Is Collaborative Adaptation?

To understand collaborative adaptation, break down the term by looking at each word. Adaptation is simply the act of changing or being flexible in a given scenario. When you throw the word ''collaborative,'' which means ''working together,'' in there alongside it, you can understand collaborative adaptation as the act of changing or being flexible while working together in a group.

Collaborative adaptation is important because it signifies your team's ability or willingness to embrace change when it presents itself. All teams endure change, whether it's a new team member, new policies, new market demands or something else. Teams that can adapt collaboratively stand a better chance of being successful long-term.

So, what does it mean to embrace adaptation as a team? It involves members of a team working together to think about how they approach situations, the processes that guide them and how they handle challenges. An example of collaborative adaptation in action might show up in a post-mortem, a team meeting at the end of a project to discuss what went well and what didn't.

Teams that can succeed at collaborative adaptation often enjoy the benefits of that collaboration: greater innovative thinking, quicker action, better teamwork and overall adding more value to their organization.

Strategies For Collaboration

As a manager, you want your teams to embrace collaborative adaptation, right? You read the benefits and importance above and thought to yourself, ''I want that!'' Here are some strategies you can use to develop and facilitate group collaboration, while teaching team members to be considerate of their colleagues' ideas and point of view.


The first step might be the easiest and that's simply to encourage communication among your team members. That might take the form of on-site or off-site meetings where team members can speak freely and create a stronger team bond. Encourage team members to embrace a team dynamic where communication is open and transparent and where ideas can be presented without criticism or judgment. Teach team members how to engage in active listening and get them to handle miscommunications and misunderstandings quickly. Support the concept of feedback on all ideas after they've been presented without negativity or personal attacks.


Conducting a self-inventory can be good not only for a group's individual members, but for the group as a whole. A self-inventory is just a sincere assessment of a team member's strengths and weaknesses and the strengths and weaknesses of the group. Once a self-inventory has been taken, encourage team members to share their results and talk through them honestly. This will require an atmosphere of support and constructive critique without individuals getting their feelings hurt.

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