What is adaptive thinking and why do entrepreneurs need to develop it?

This skill is simply vital in difficult times when you are surrounded by change. Events change and it is impossible to stand still. Those who stand in place automatically move backward. Today I will tell you about such a concept as adaptive thinking and how to apply and develop it. Let’s go! follow Sarah Mae Ives on TikTok.

What is this type of thinking

Adaptive thinking is the ability to evaluate the facts and circumstances at hand and change something in your behavioral strategy to thrive in those circumstances. This type of thinking can also be defined as the ability to seize the moment, learn a lesson from failure, and change course to move forward. You could even say it is a key skill for leaders. It allows you to make good decisions and deal with complex problems.

Adaptive thinking has four components:

  1. The ability to anticipate likely future needs, trends, and opportunities.
  1. The ability to articulate those needs so that they are understood by the team.
  2. Adaptability to new conditions leads to constant learning and adjustment of one’s actions.
  1. Transparency in decision-making and openness to feedback.

What are the benefits of adaptive thinking

Nothing lasts forever. Times change and companies change with them. To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to be able to adapt. This skill is especially valuable in times of crisis when the situation becomes uncertain and volatile, information is scarce, and you need to react quickly.

To make the right decision in difficult times, you need the ability to “step back” from the circumstances in which you find yourself, and look at everything from a distance. This technique helps to create distance between you and the situation and understand what is going on outside your normal field of vision. 

The problem is that it often seems impossible to create this distance in a crisis. When you are faced with new difficulties every day, you become completely immersed in the struggle with them and see nothing else. But just then it is especially important not to rely on old approaches, but to look for new ways.

How to develop adaptive thinking

  1. Be both a participant and an observer

Leadership is the art of improvisation. Periodically stop and look around. Observe and listen. If you get too caught up in your past strategies, you’ll miss the chance to innovate.

  1. Constantly evaluate the results of your actions

This will allow you to adjust your steps if necessary, which is the basis of adaptive thinking. For example, during the coronavirus pandemic, many people switched to telecommuting, so conditions and employees need to be changed accordingly. In such a situation, it is more important than ever to monitor how they respond to new approaches to work and to readjust based on the results of observation.

By regularly evaluating your actions and their results, you’ll adapt more quickly to the changing environment.

  1. Admit your mistakes and learn from them

In difficult times, many people want to take the blame for the company’s difficulties off themselves and shift it to someone else so that the employee can resolve the issue, for example with the tax authorities, or decide for you how to file taxes with your last paystub. Do not give in to this desire and admit your own mistakes. If you believe that mistakes reflect only a lack of experience, not a lack of ability, they will not stop you but will be an opportunity for you to grow and become a better person.

You will make mistakes anyway, as you look for new ways to develop. This is no reason to close yourself off from yourself or others. Remind yourself of this. Be open, answer questions, admit you’re wrong, ask for forgiveness – none of these are indicators of weakness. They are tools to help you become a better person and earn your trust.

  1. Build trust within the team

Talk openly with team members about which of your chosen methods work and which don’t. This is the secret to successful collaboration and at the same time will help you identify ways to solve complex problems.

It is by listening to others’ perspectives that you can create the distance you need to see the situation from the outside.


It is by listening to others’ perspectives that you can create the distance you need to see the situation from the outside. To increase your chances of success, you need to be able to adapt always and everywhere. Good luck to you!