Last week’s column began with the circuitous journey of exploring a more comprehensive understanding of defining a new management style through the lens of disability. It is through this lens that several archetypal themes were introduced, a triumvirate of impressions that express a different way to tackle the challenges that the business faces in the years ahead. Resilience, Patience, and Adaptation serve as the basis for this newfangled thinking that emanates from the lived experience of disability providing a bridge to extrapolate the value of shaping a new language of disability through the framework of management theory and practice.
Before making the foray into valuing this new language of management, let us begin by illustrating one of the key archetypal themes that provide the structure for this modern idiom, resilience. The concept of resilience has been a central theme for those living with disabilities being defined as having the ability to bend but not break, bounce back, and grow in the face of adverse life experiences. The American Psychological Association has outlined resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress.” The lived experience of disability offers a multitude of narratives that highlight their aptitude towards resilience and the ability to navigate through worlds not made for them. Yet it is important to understand that for those with disabilities resilience is not something that is binary defined by whether it is present or absent. In reality, resilience is more likely to exist on a continuum that is often present to differing degrees amid numerous domains of life. Understanding this basic concept makes it easier for leadership across the business ecosystem to harness this knowledge by revisiting the disability experience and mine their familiarity as a tool that can be applied to enhance their business goals.
Embracing the value of resilience is becoming more imperative in this changing business environment. In the shadow of the pandemic, businesses are struggling to adapt and change and ultimately survive. Management practitioners are not only searching for new ways to strengthen the underlying mechanisms that define their business but are looking for new prospects for continued growth. Organizations are at a seminal moment where they must engage in fresh thinking that pushes the boundaries of business as usual and cultivates new strategies to stabilize organizations when faced with a crisis, whether it be natural, financial, or otherwise. By calling upon a new management practice through the lens of disability corporate culture is given a new set of tools to maximize their ability to be well versed and prepared for the road ahead. Also, by employing a disability lens business culture can see organizational structures through a dynamic system approach. The lived experience of disability has been rooted in a state of interdependency that has defined the broader system. Business leaders must recognize this and apply the same model to their organizational structure. It is this kind of definition that helps facilitate management to think through a company’s skill to work together as a cohesive whole and prepare employees to deal with crises while having the capacity to adapt across the numerous levels of the organization. Understanding the basic tenants of resilience should be an essential component in management theory and practice. As the great management tactician and c0-founder of Intel, Andy Grove once said “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis, Good companies survive them, Great companies are improved by them.” Corporate leaders should recognize that resilience should be an essential part of the DNA of every successful company. Understanding the language of disability offers such a course for improvement and a way to learn from mistakes and realize that the true meaning of resilience ought to be a prerequisite for any C-suite executive.
In the upcoming Mindset Matters column we will attempt to broaden the application of resilience within the organizational structure, offering a more comprehensive blueprint on how to mobilize the use of this archetype in practical terms and begin to investigate the role that Adaptation plays in shaping the triumvirate model illustrating further the intersection of management theory and practice through a disability lens.