Model for assessing adaptive effectiveness development

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Ferdi, Koen, Sybe, Tobias Lensker

Authors: C. Smith, C. Jennings, N. Castro

Publication Year: 2005


Journal: Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management

Volume: 13

Issue: 5

Categories: Organizational Change, Adaptive Management, Crisis, Gestalt Switch, Qualitative


The purpose of this manuscript is to propose a Model for Assessing Adaptive Effectiveness(MAAE), to analyze an organisation’s response system for contingency or disruptive/crisis events. The model will place emphasis on identifying and connecting the relationships between variables in the organisation affected by the lack of a strategic contingency plan and will design managerial strategies for those times of disruption or crisis. The MAAE model will provide the organisation with a systematic approach to manage disruption and to be proactive rather than reactive. Leadership is a critical element in any crisis, this model will address how leaders can influence situations when human, and technical systems go awry

Critical Reflection

A crisis, whether it be a disaster of grandiose scale, a simple business “surprise” or most likely an event somewhere in between this extreme points of distribution, is considered a given basis for any business activity planning. In order to emphasis this approach, the authors refer to an article by Barbara Rike, a distinguished Records Manager, Consultant, Author and contributor to ARMA International Education Foundation, as well as an expert in municipal records management. Rike opens her article, relentlessly advocating: Rike, Barb. Prepared or Not… That Is the Vital Question. The Information Management Journal, May/June, 2003, Vol.37, No.3, pp.25-33.

“Too few organizations are prepared for the emergencies that wait just off stage – their entrances are unrehearsed, but they will happen. Every day, there is the chance that some sort of business interrupt ion, crisis, disaster) or emergency will occur.”

In this line of reasoning, Smith emphasizes the importance ofCrisis Leadership (CL), which is expected to handle the pre-crisis, actual crisis and post-crisis phases as opposed toCrisis Management (CM) that addresses merely the middle phase. The author argues the importance of the other two phases, as greater flexibility in response is expected, once it has been initiated as early as possible, instead of after the onset of the actual crisis, since the choice of solutions decreases as the time passes by and the crises settles in. Feedback in the post-crisis phase is just as important, as along with loss-assessment, better preparedness can be aimed at in the future. So as to assure CL effectiveness, Smith introduces aModel for Assessing Adaptive Effectiveness (MAAE), which is stated to aid organisations throughout the three aforementioned phases. As MAAE is regarded as continuous lifecycle which needs to be re-evaluated constantly in terms of the organisational external and internal environment, Smith proposes perpetuating MAAE’s success by assessment of prevailing decision-making and behavioural styles. For this purpose, Adizes’ PAEI (Produce, Administer, Entrepreneurial and Integration) model is explored. Adizes, Ichak. Passages-Diagnosing and Treating Lifecycle Problems of Organisations . Organisational Dynamics, 1979, Vol.8, No.1, pp.3-25. Its utilizations is mainly recommended not only for the recognition of the dominant patterns, but also due to the relevant suggestions that can assist the organisation to move up or down the scale, according to its maturity level and future aspirations. The discussed10 development stages are:

  1. Courtship (the initial development or creation)
  2. Infancy (after launch - start of active trading)
  3. Go-go (energetic early growth and sometimes chaos)
  4. Adolescence (continuous development but more established and defined)
  5. Prime (fittest, healthiest, most competitive and profitable stage)
  6. Stability (still effective and very profitable, but beginning to lose leading edge – onset of vulnerability)
  7. Aristocracy (strong by virtue of market presence and consolidated accumulated successes, but slow and unexciting, definitely losing market share to competitors and new technologies, trends, etc)
  8. Recrimination (doubts, problems, threats and internal issues overshadow the original purposes)
  9. Bureaucracy (inward-focused administration, cumbersome, seeking exit or divestment, many operating and marketing challenges)
  10. Death (subject to hostile takeover, closure, sell-off, bankruptcy)

Certainly, the 10 development stages are not the only model that introduces and discusses the “terminal” aspect of organisations, which is “death”. Adizes, Ichak. Passages-Diagnosing and Treating Lifecycle Problems of Organisations . Organisational Dynamics, 1979, Vol.8, No.1, pp.3-25. Most of the models, however, are limited to problematic stages, which can nonetheless be attended to and potentially resolved by major reorganizations or perhaps cultural shift. Another interesting aspect of this model was the recommendation regarding Bureaucracy stage, where personal survival appears the first and foremost goal of the employees. The term “surgery” was used in order to underline the significance of uncompromising need to remove the incompetent managers, who enable and stir the appetite for this negative self-centered atmosphere. I find this attitude somewhat bold and yet not sufficiently used or even avoided in the situations where it may be vital to company’s not only success but even survival. I was also intrigued by the discussion of post-crisis feedback techniques. First of all, theAfter Action Report (AAR), as used by the U.S. Army, appeared quite sensible in terms of report equivalently the success as well as the failures of contingency plan implementation. It apparently helps to identify and further investigate the strengths that can be relied upon and also the weaknesses in need of improvement. Smith also discusses another military approach to the after-crisis phase. It’s the so called“Churchill’s Audit”:

  • Why didn’t I know?
  • Why didn’t my advisors know?”
  • Why wasn’t I told?
  • Why didn’t I ask?

In my opinion this brief check concentrated on the obvious aspect of the lack of knowledge. However, it allows for even responsibility distribution, internalizing the need for more spherical knowledge request. Concurrently, it holds accountable all the involved employees, assigning them the ownership of this process and allowing them for greater contribution. Last, but not least, I was captivated to see the notion ofmindfulness as organisational capability to respond to unexpected events. Since, I participated in the Group 2 research project on curiosity, I had had prior awareness of this trait in the organisational context. Mindfulness was introduced as moderator that would focus curiosity, allowing therefore the organisation’s responsiveness in distress situations. In Smith’s article, the concept of mindfulness was more related to a general awareness, which could act as implicit warning system for the unexpected events


Ferdi, Koen, Sybe, Tobias Lensker