Adaptive and Technical Challenges

Learn the difference between adaptive and technical challenges to reflect at the appropriate depth and find a lasting solution.

Whenever you reflect on an issue to improve the situation, the improvement can be found at different depths:

  1. Take a one-time action (to fix the problem)
  2. Change a procedure (to prevent the issue)
  3. Discover a new way of seeing the problem (and solving it)

Level 1 and 2 are the easy issues, because solutions can be found in our existing, habitual ways of thinking. There are also known as technical challenges.

Level 3 are the hard issues. When a problems are reoccuring, it’s often an indication that level 1 or 2 solutions aren’t enough. You can’t use your existing knowledge and skills to solve it - you must create a transformative change by discovering new ways of seeing and doing. Hard issues are also known as adaptive challenges.

Although it’s hard work to facilitate transformative change, it’s often these issues that end up having the most meaningful impact on the team.

Depending on the issues that surface, you can decide what level solution is appropriate. The process described in Sprint Retro is suited for level-3 issues. If you find more level 1 and 2 issues, you can shorten the exploration phase and move more quickly into the solution phase.

The longer you stay in exploration, the more likely you’ll facilitate transformative change, new insight and creative breakthrough.