Have you ever had the pleasure of being in the presence of a DJ that is simply awesome? Their seeming ability to read the vibe of the room, make the right real-time decisions, and influence the mood of complete strangers is wonderful. In other words, the best DJ’s can observe, interpret and respond to the environment that they are presented with, and help shape what they are part of.
In many ways, this is what we are all doing on a daily basis. Whilst sometimes it probably seems easier to just press Play and hope that everyone else feels the vibe, it’s our ability to get into sync with what’s happening around us, and adjust accordingly, that often sees us performing at our best. In fact, it’s probably the number one skill that one could choose to develop - the ability to listen, observe, interpret, decide and adjust according to circumstances.
The law of requisite variety
If you are a student of Cybernetics (the study of the structure of regulatory systems) or have completed your Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) certification, you will already have heard of this 'law'. Paraphrased simplistically, it means the system/person with the most flexibility/diversity of variety/behaviour will ultimately control the system. In other words, the people who respond best to whatever comes their way end up in the best position to succeed.
I love this concept, because it places the emphasis fairly and squarely on ourselves to develop and be conscious of our choices and behavioural responses. We have the deciding vote over our future, rather than having fate thrust upon us by others.
Unfortunately, it is not as easy as it seems. From an early age, we are often conditioned to think and behave inflexibly. We are taught to allocate things to a particular box (e.g. Myers Briggs profile), judge the performance of others (at work), and assume a linear relationship between cause and effect (which are actually really difficult to properly understand). We are taught to judge right and wrong, often without considering that both are probably happening at the same time.
As F. Scott Fitgerald said… “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
Immunity from the robot invasion
The reality is that, at least in the world of work, the robots and machines are coming for our jobs. More accurately, business leaders and owners don't want to pay people who cause problems and don't add value. The best way to become immune from the pending automation invasion is to bear in mind the law of requisite variety.
In the future, a person’s ability to receive a decent salary or get that promotion is likely to hinge on the ability to adapt according to current circumstances. The really good news is that this is a skill that can be learned.
Is it really that important? In this article from McKinsey about important leadership characteristics, the results of a global study suggest four important behaviours that matter:
Operate with strong results orientation
Seek different perspectives
Solve problems effectively.
But it is not just about Leadership, in this article from Kent University it lists the top 10 skills that employers want. Those who can channel their inner DJ will have plenty of tunes to dance to. And if this is a skill you would like to develop further, get in touch.