Technical vs. Adaptive Challenges in Organizations

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  • 0:04 Overcoming Challenges
  • 0:37 Technical Challenges
  • 2:03 Adaptive Challenges
  • 2:55 Adaptive Challenge Example
  • 4:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

In this lesson, we delineate between two types of challenges organizations could face. Technical challenges, which are relatively easy to deal with, and adaptive challenges, which are not.

Overcoming Challenges

At this point in your life, you must have solved thousands of problems. Some of them were pretty straightforward. Did the lamp turn off all of a sudden? Maybe you need a new light bulb. Yet other problems are anything but easy. Had a fight with your sibling? Good luck unraveling and then figuring out that mess, right?

Well, organizations are faced with a dichotomy of challenges as well. Some are relatively simple technical challenges, and others are pretty complex and require new learning; these are called adaptive challenges. Let's go over both of these types of challenges.

Technical Challenges

Technical challenges are problems that are easy to identify and solve using existing resources. There are numerous way by which you can identify something that's a technical challenge:

  1. They're easy to spot. For example, your organization keeps experiencing software issues that reduce efficiency.
  2. They can be solved by experts using their know-how. This could be an in-house technical expert who knows how to work with the software and has dealt with similar problems in the past. That is to say, current knowledge can more or less readily solve the challenge.
  3. People affected by the problem are glad help is on the way. In other words, everyone is happy this software issue is finally getting fixed. Better late than never, right?
  4. It is relatively simple to solve the issue. It could be a matter of performing a software update or deciding that a move to another software solution is in order. Now, some technical challenges can be complex, but they are relatively simple to solve when compared to the adaptive challenges discussed later.

For leaders dealing with technical challenges, it's important to clearly define the challenge, identify the proper resources (such as personnel) who already have the know-how to deal with the problem quickly, and implement the solution for the benefit of everyone.

A piece of poorly constructed software is a clear problem. Identify the personnel, such as those in tech support, who have dealt with this issue or have the expertise by which to quickly deal with it, and have them work on a solution.

Adaptive Challenges

Again, this is a relatively easy and straightforward process when compared to dealing with adaptive challenges. Adaptive challenges require novel changes, learning, or solutions. They can be differentiated from technical challenges in numerous ways:

  1. The issue at hand may be pretty difficult to identify and can be easy to dismiss. That is to say, some may prefer to sweep it under the rug.
  2. The problem is relatively difficult to solve, as it requires a new solution that hasn't been tried before.
  3. People affected by the problem, the search for the solution, and/or the solution itself may be quite resistant to the changes required, as it may involve changing one's beliefs, workplace role, or values, among other things.
  4. It isn't so much an expert who implements a solution, but rather the people associated with the problem who must do the hard work of solving it.

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