It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

During the press conference to announce Nokia’s acquisition by Microsoft, Nokia’s CEO ended his speech lamenting, “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”.  What a dramatic shift in fortune in a very short period of time:  a Forbes article written in 2014 commented, “Nokia can apparently do little wrong in its mobile phone business.”

Nokia once dominated the mobile phone market, but could not compete effectively in the Smartphone space.  Yet just a decade ago, Nokia grabbed a huge chunk of the mobile phone business from Motorola.  Why?  Because Motorola could not effectively make the transition to digital technology.

Nokia’s and Motorola’s very smart people didn’t do anything wrong – but they did not do enough right.  While highly intelligent – their leaders lacked the Change Intelligence to adeptly sense and agilely respond to a rapidly fluctuating competitive environment and technological landscape.  Around the world and across industries, talented leaders are trying to do the right things to innovate and grow their companies.  Yet, even when you’re not doing anything “wrong,” it doesn’t mean you’re evolving quickly enough to avoid extinction, let alone to capitalize on new trends and prosper.

These dynamics were key themes at HCI’s Human Capital Summit that I had the honor of conducting the closing keynote for this week in New Orleans.  Executives from over a dozen global corporations including Microsoft, GE, and Turner Broadcasting shared compelling “behind the scenes” stories of how they are developing “agile talent management practices” to foster their organization’s agility to remain competitive in markets that won’t stand still.  Chief among the many lessons learned is the pivotal role of developing leaders who are agile, self-aware, and willing to step forward as a role model “when everyone wants change but no one wants to change” to quote Jane Behrends, head of Change Management at Walmart.

As change leaders, we need to develop our capacity to know how to create new products, solve challenges and lead our team through change even when the path forward is uncertain and complex.

That’s why we need as many experiences as possible to broaden our perspectives and develop our ability to see solutions and inspire our people toward winning new directions.  Standard leadership and change management training is a good baseline but not enough in the age of speed, turbulence and volatility to give us an edge.

That’s one of the reasons I’m hosting the Leadership Immersion Lab – to give people an “out of the box” experience to expand their change leadership capacity in a way that traditional classroom learning can’t achieve.  So many leaders “get” the theory of how to lead change – and yet recognize there is a gap between their understanding and their ability to apply their knowledge real-time on-the-job.  That’s the beauty of the immersion experience – participants learn to bridge the gap between information and application, in a way that achieves immediate and measurable benefits for themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

What are “out of the box” ways you have discovered to build your capacity as a change leader?  What experiences have proved pivotal for you in your learning journey?  I invite you to think about these questions, and to email me back with your insights.