Adaptive working

Brink’s adaptive working practice changes how organisations actually do things, making it easier for them to innovate by:

  • Coming up with and implementing new ideas
  • Collaborating with others
  • Trying things, and learning from the successes and the failures

We understand the messy unpredictability of real work in the real world; things change so fast, but plans and strategies don’t always keep up at the same pace. In our view, most organisations or groups do better when they move away from an environment where teams follow rules, and towards an environment where teams learn by doing. We help teams and organisations work better together, so they can make a greater positive impact. The result? More dents in the world.

Change is never easy. Becoming a learning organisation takes time. Crucially, it's something that depends on human behaviour and relationships:

  • You have to let people and teams learn, before you can create an organisation that learns
  • If you want people to learn, you have to be proactive about making learning something that's ok for everyone to do
  • Which means that ultimately, we're talking about human behaviour and attitudes; organisations become more adaptive when they take proactive steps to examine and change their own culture

We're there to support organisations experiment and innovate, even when their teams are held back by years-old policies and processes that make innovation much harder. We support innovation as it start, and support teams and organisations working to make it stick.

Applying Brink's thinking to your ways of working

We work with teams and their leaders, digging as deep into day-to-day tasks as we reach high into strategic planning and organisational systems. It all interconnects in the end. The better we understand it, the more we can contribute.

To do it, we apply Brink's theory of behavioural innovation; particularly using its 3 central themes: mindsets, methods and mechanisms.

  • Change mindsets, and you change how people and teams think about their people and their work
  • Change methods, and you change how those people learn, and how they adapt in response
  • Change mechanisms, and you change how people and teams work together, creating new incentives for positive adaptive behaviour

In practical terms, our work often looks like:

  • Coaching and advising organisational change efforts that focus on enhancing adaptation, experimentation or innovation
  • Moving innovation practices (such as adaptive management) from the edges of an organisation towards its core; to make those things feel more 'normal' and more useful
  • Helping consortia and joint ventures work effectively together across teams and organisations, to become more than the sum of their parts
  • Redesigning activities like planning, budgeting, grant-making, learning, reporting and decision-making, so they can be more adaptive
  • We work with bi-lateral donors, philanthropic organisations, NGOs, consortia and more

Learning by doing

The whole point of being adaptive is that learning can't happen without the freedom and opportunity to experiment. A large part of our role is working with leaders to create the conditions for those experiments to take place. It's about building a culture as much as being coaches.

What's learned is different for every team, group or organisation we work with. Another important aspect of the work is building relationships and communities that can work together to use what's been learned. Making the results more applicable and more useable. Change can be a viral message, if it's communicated clearly enough.

Further reading

Find out how we used adaptive working methods to help the team at Oxfam America make a bigger difference

Contact us: [email protected]