Adaptive Capacity – What is it and Why is it Relevant?


Contributed by Courtney Madson

Many times, in business, natural phenomena are referenced to help answer our toughest questions. No, unfortunately, this isn’t going to be a feed of those inspirational posters plastered around your office. This is how we can learn from nature to become stronger change leaders and enable our business ecosystems to flourish.

Sally Breyley Parker and Argerie Vasilakes, of Time Zero Enterprises, are proponents of this theory referenced as biomimicry. Working with companies across various industries, they’ve helped organizations perform like highly productive ecosystems. To do this, they’ve not only looked at specific organisms but at the conditions needed for a successful ecosystem.

One property that they’ve heavily study is adaptive capacity. So, what exactly is adaptive capacity? It’s the idea that the same strategies used to deal with change in nature that can be implemented in business. In today’s industry, change has shifted from isolated occurrences to a daily constant – especially in the media industry. To cope with this, Sally explained, “you have to start it off by completely reframing or re-perceiving change in an organization.” Being agile and adaptable to the conditions of the desired change will not only help you to become a stronger change leader but become a better professional and less stressed. And don’t we all want to be less stressed?

Along with change, Sally and Argerie have examined how ecosystems in nature have deployed strategies to deal with crisis or fear. They explained that while it is in our nature to react to the unknown or fear, the key is to be attuned to your surroundings. By having this understanding helps us to better prepare and know how to respond in a fearless manner.

Interested in learning about a living systems model or how principles in nature can help improve your organization or help with your professional development? Join Sally Breyley Parker and Argerie Vasilakes in Knoxville, Thursday, March 22nd for an interactive workshop with individual and small group exercises. Want more information? Seating is limited, so REGISTER NOW for this exclusive event


Courtney Madson works at Discovery as an Associate Writer/Producer for HGTV, DIY and Great American Country. She is based in Knoxville, Tennessee and has been an active member of WICT since 2015.