So I first learned the concept of the adaptive cycle at an evaluation workshop sponsored by the Tamarack Institute. It has its roots in the study of ecosystems. Some of us may be familiar with the growth and conservation parts of the cycle; represented by the “S’ curve on it side. We have a starting place that is low and it grows, and may even plateau. The adaptive cycle completes the loop and forms an infinity symbol. The focus of this part of the cycle is on release (or collapse) and reorganization. It is the place where adaptability and innovation occur.
I started working in organizations when I was 18 years old and after 36 years of traditional work, I’m building my own consulting practice. I experienced a long period of growth in my professional career after getting my master’s degree. I even experienced the plateau of that “S” curve; still believing that I could still grow. However, natural cycles have a way of superceding the best made plans. Subsequently, I’m on the release and reorganization side of the cycle. I’m learning to rethink work, I’m taking the time to think about what is meaningful to me and the nonprofit, human services sector that provides so many things to so many people.
Two weeks ago, I had a little launch party for my new role as a Senior Advisor at Partners for Impact. People have congratulated me. After thanking them, I remind them that I have to generate work to generate an income. As part of that process, it feels important to share some of the important frameworks that I will be drawing on as I work with organizations. Some leaders and organizations may need the lessons that I’ve learned from the people and organizations that have been a part of my growth and conservation phase. While other organizations are ready to explore with me the release and reorganization parts of the adaptive cycle. While the cycle never ends, the place between reorganization and growth is also a time of renewal.