March 2021

Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome: How to Survive and Thrive Through Challenges

by M.Scott Weaver, EMBA

Setbacks and adversity have internal and external sources, and they come at every scale of impact and risk from mundane to catastrophic.

COVID-19 ignited during the period January to April 2020, showing just how quickly business forecasts and plans can become obsolete. The pandemic sent shockwaves across industries and economic sectors world-wide. Its effects continue disrupting— and in many cases destroying or transforming—businesses, supply chains, and markets.

Success remains the first imperative of your business, no matter what comes your way and disrupts normal operations. What makes a business responsive against setbacks and hardy in adversity, still able and driven to deliver on the imperative to succeed? Organizational agility: how quickly you can adjust your strategy and operating approach amid changing circumstances.

Militaries prepare for and operate within uncertain and hostile circumstances, with incomplete information and in extremes of climate and weather. No matter their service branch, military leaders must repeatedly make correct calls and do correct things in uncertain, high-stakes conditions. This is true whether confronting adversaries in battle on sea, air, land (space or cyberspace), or when helping friendly governments stabilize and recover from crises and disasters. The U.S. armed forces cultivate a bias for action throughout their organizations — within the smallest teams and in each individual.

The armed forces are built for adversity and setbacks. The U.S. military has the imperative to succeed at its core directive: keep fighting until victory is assured. “Winning matters,” is how the Army’s Chief of Staff, General Mike McConville, puts it. The Marines Corps sees the drive to win as essential to its purpose and trains “to improvise adapt and overcome all obstacles in all situations.”

Adversity and setbacks are a normal part of any business, too. “Improvise, adapt, and overcome” is a mindset for making your business responsive against setbacks and hardy in adversity, to making it agile in revising its operational approach and strategy as conditions change. It is not a step-by-step recipe. In this white paper we’ll explore important elements in this mind-set’s three components. We can point you in the right direction to equip yourself as a leader and foster an organizational culture which is able to change, grow and succeed.

To learn all of the Principles of Action for improvising, adapting and overcoming any challenge, download the full whitepaper.