Power of Haas Ideas

Changing It Up

Adapting in a fluid, competitive world

If there’s one skill executives may want to hone, it’s the ability to adapt and transform.

Senior Lecturer Homa Bahrami, who studies knowledge workers in the technology sector, coined the term “super-flexibility” and has developed a playbook to teach professionals how to transform the way they organize, lead, interact, and drive continuous change.

“Super-flexibility is the ability to engage in a constant balancing act. What do I need to maintain stability, but where do I need to adapt my team, structure, or product,” says Bahrami. “Flexibility is the secret sauce.”

In Bahrami’s new online course, Accelerating Change Readiness and Agility, offered through Berkeley Haas’ Center for Executive Education and available on ExecOnline, executives work through their workplace challenges, such as how to introduce new products to Millennials or change the way their company interacts with customers.

Enrollees first identify their natural aptitude for driving change, which Bahrami divides into five types of “adaptive DNA.”

Resilient DNA people, like crisis managers, see a problem and like to fix it. Hedging DNA people consider different scenarios and “what if” contingencies. Agile DNA people prefer to implement the minimum necessary. Robust DNA people, often entrepreneurs, are visionary and persistent. Versatile DNA people, like salespeople, adapt their style when interacting with different individuals.

People can learn to adapt to alternate approaches to create change depending on the situation.

Bahrami says her work has shown that the best way to initiate change is by taking a scientific approach. “Take mini steps, experiment, iterate, and have an open mind,” she says. Like a marathon, focus on the next step, then the next block. “Pretty soon, you’ve reached the goal line.” —PT

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Sr. Lecturer Homa Bahrami Sr. Lecturer Homa Bahrami