How to Create an Adaptive Company Culture

Aryan Bhatia

So you’ve crossed one of the bigger obstacles on this journey to becoming an entrepreneur with a successful startup–your very own dream team. They believe in your idea, almost as much as you. 

But the question is, are they as prepared as you are for the volatility associated with being part of this venture, as you are? Are you even ready to face the ups and downs that are sure to come at some point in your startup journey? 

If you’re nervous about taking the next step and completely investing yourself into this business, time to stop fretting and start shaping a company culture that prepares you, your team, and by extension, your startup for any kind of uncertainty and adjusts to the circumstances with ease. Such an organizational culture is called an “adaptive company culture.” Not only can you shape an adaptive culture through simple changes, but you can see the difference it has in the quality of work and work satisfaction. 

By creating an environment where everyone is dedicated to being transparent and open about their views, you can prevent your team from simply falling into groupthink patterns and utilize their unique problem-solving to find solutions or alternative courses of action.

Such a culture is not only useful amid a crisis, but even if you want to make plans for any difficulty in the future. When your team members know it’s safe to express their views in this positive psychological environment, contingency planning becomes much more fluid and efficient. Making a plan B is a lot easier when you have people who are committed to your cause and want it to succeed. 

Here are few ways you can work towards building an adaptive company culture, which can enhance your experience as a founder just as much as it can safeguard during tougher times: 

Create Easier Channels For Communication  

Conversation must not be one-sided or restrictive in any way. Enforce this idea in your work 

relationships: If you work six feet away, you don’t need to email each other. Get up and discuss, go for a walk, discuss it, grab some food and contemplate it. These are the simpler pleasures of the infant stages of a startup; as the size of the team increases, it will be increasingly difficult to get to know everyone personally and work with them on the same project. Especially when faced with a tough decision, you need the support of your key members who can provide you with guidance and alternate perspectives on the issue at hand. 

While the ultimate responsibility to make a decision may be in your hands, knowing that those you work with either fully support the decision or are open about their reasons not to agree with it allows you to move forward with confidence and conviction.

Try Different Brainstorming Techniques

Brainstorming is a group creativity technique where the team sits together and comes up with ideas/solutions based on lateral thinking. There’s no right or wrong approach and every crazy idea is welcome–because this might trigger someone else’s thinking, and then there could be something there. The term was coined by renowned ad executive, Alex Osbourne who also developed practices for successful and efficient brainstorming. 

There are different types of brainstorming, such as brainwriting and the Phillips 66 brainstorming. These approaches are also very effective since the ideas are a bit more filtered down individually and presented in their best light. These methods certainly enable one to understand the issue at hand in further detail and present viable alternatives in their own right. 

A startup needs to maintain a balance between brainstorming and mindstorming since they provide collective satisfaction and reward individual contributions. 

Elect a Devil’s Advocate 

Sometimes when everything seems too convenient or straightforward, and the whole team is on board, is when things can go entirely wrong. If everyone agrees but a few employees–don’t dismiss them as cynical. Seek their alternative approach. 

It might be useful to select these individuals to be devil’s advocates in the room. The definition of devil’s advocate is ‘someone who pretends to be against an idea or plan that many people support to make people discuss and consider it in more detail. They can work to think of the possible downsides to an idea. By looking at a concept or product and evaluating its pitfalls, the team environment becomes conducive to lateral thinking and flip-side perspectives. This process can be extremely rewarding, especially for startups, since they are prone to trial and error–having someone present the worst-case scenario or voice a contrary opinion keeps creators on their feet until the final product is ready. 

By allowing a devil’s advocate in any discussion or decision-making process, your team is presented with the full weight of the pros and cons associated with the decision. Such a process can lead to high-quality decision-making. 

Each startup has its own culture, and every founder must invest his time in developing a strong work culture that can exist on its own. It’s even more important that the culture is adaptive so that your startup can maximize the potential of its employees and benefit from their collaboration. 

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