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Variety is the Spice of Life

[May 22, 2021] by Kathy Scott, PhD, and Bridget Sarikas

There’s a theory in cybernetics to help us think about how to move forward in the midst of the many disruptions we face. It’s called the Law of Requisite Variety – This theory is that only variety can absorb variety. To put it simplistically (yes please) it means this:

The more flexible you are when life throws a challenge your way – the more options you can figure out to address this challenge -- the more likely you will be able to manage your life and get what you desire. The same is true for organizations.

Variety and Resilience go hand in hand. Resilience is the ability to make positive adjustments under challenging conditions. It is the ability to adapt, cope and rebound with strength. It gives us the capability to go beyond the status quo and draw on a wide range of diverse resources to think and act more creatively to navigate the circumstances.

For leaders, a major component of managing the complexity around us is having enough variety, enough diversity of thought, talent, skills, experience, and expertise in your organization to adequately understand and respond to the many disruptions in your midst. VARIETY IS KING (or QUEEN).

If you look at the most successful companies of the 21st century you can see this theory in action. Facebook, Google and Apple are constantly in a process of recruiting and nurturing a diverse set of skills, talent and thinking so that they can better anticipate what’s coming down the pipeline, adapt quickly, and create new product innovations. They don’t sit still around and wait for it.

How much variety do you surround yourself with? While variety is the spice of life, it doesn’t just happen. We have to make it happen!!

Titter Time:

Life is like underwear, change is good.” ~ Author Unknown

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