TMA World Viewpoint 18 The ADAPT Cycle


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Increasingly, we are interacting with people from different cultural groups – both globally and domestically.

These interactions can be difficult because our different cultural influences shape how we each understand the world around us.

The ADAPT Cycle is a change process aimed at helping you analyze and modify your behaviours when working across cultures.

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TMA World Viewpoint 18 The ADAPT Cycle

  1. 1. TheADAPTCycleMindLinesTerence BrakeTMA World │ Head of Learning and Innovation
  2. 2. The ADAPT CycleThe ADAPT Cycle is a change process aimed at helping youanalyze and modify your behaviours when working acrosscultures.Increasingly, we are interacting with peoplefrom different cultural groups – bothglobally and domestically.These interactions can be difficult becauseour different cultural influences shape howwe each understand the world around us.We develop different expectations abouthow to best relate to others, how tocommunicate effectively, how to managetime and power and how to think aboutproblems.
  3. 3. The ADAPT CycleThe ADAPT Cycle is a change process aimed at helping youanalyze and modify your behaviours when working acrosscultures.Such differences can challenge our sense ofreality.What we have taken-for-granted about howthe world does – or should – work can bethrown into turmoil.When our expectations about what is right orwrong or normal are challenged, we canbecome frustrated and impatient, evenangry.Such dysfunctional behavioursundermine our ability to developproductive cross-cultural relationships.
  4. 4. The ADAPT CycleBeing adaptive is a critical skill for our complex world. Being adaptivedoesn’t mean changing your personality or your cultural identity, itmeans making small changes in behaviour to increase interpersonaleffectiveness.The ADAPT Cycle consists of five steps: Each step in the ADAPT Cycle has a goal and a relevant set of personal attributes
  5. 5. The ADAPT Cycle Step Goals Personal Attributes Reach an initial understanding CuriosityAnalyze of the situation Perceptiveness Determine a reasonable Self-AwarenessDecide adaptation(s) based on your initial understanding Tolerance for Ambiguity ConfidenceApply Make adaptation(s) Risk-Taking Assess effectiveness of MindfulnessProcess the adaptation(s) Restraint Make a further adaptation(s) Flexibility Tune as needed Resilience
  6. 6. The ADAPT CycleThe final element in theADAPT Cycle are sets ofPersonal Indicators that relateto each of the Attributes. TIME TO ADAPTThe Indicators are behavioursthat individuals tend todemonstrate when possessing anAttribute to a high degree.
  7. 7. The ADAPT Cycle Curiosity:Analyze A desire to learn People who are curious tend to demonstrate: ● A wide range of interests ● A questioning mind ● A desire to look beyond the ‘obvious’ ● An enthusiasm for exploring and trying different things ● A high level of satisfaction in learning something new
  8. 8. The ADAPT Cycle Perceptiveness:Analyze An ability to recognize differences and their potential implications People who are perceptive tend to demonstrate: ● An open mind ● An ability to observe, listen and make accurate interpretations ● A sensitivity to different contexts ● An ability to penetrate below the surface ● An ability to demonstrate farsightedness
  9. 9. The ADAPT Cycle Confidence:Apply A strong belief that things will work out People who are confident tend to demonstrate: ● A clear sense of self, requiring little validation from others ● A trust in their abilities to succeed in unfamiliar environments ● A willingness to put themselves in challenging situations ● A willingness to admit mistakes, apologize and move on ● An ease with giving credit where credit is due
  10. 10. The ADAPT Cycle Risk-Taking:Apply Ability to act in the face of unpredictability People who are risk takers tend to demonstrate: ● An independent spirit ● An excitement about stepping into the unknown ● A readiness to take the initiative, experiment and test assumptions ● An ability to reframe potential challenges as opportunities ● An ability to manage fear and anxiety
  11. 11. The ADAPT Cycle Mindfulness:Process Ability to focus attention on the here and now People who are mindful tend to demonstrate: ● An ability to avoid distraction ● A sensitivity to verbal and non-verbal communication signals ● An ability to sense changes in self and others ● An ability to not force new information into old mental models ● An ability to be empathic
  12. 12. The ADAPT Cycle Restraint:Process Ability to slow down reactions People who show restraint tend to demonstrate: ● A respect for the feelings of others ● An ability to control emotions ● A high degree of patience ● An ability to suspend judgments ● A willingness to invest time in reflection
  13. 13. The ADAPT Cycle Flexibility:Tune Ability to learn continuously and change approach People who are flexible tend to demonstrate: ● A lack of defensiveness ● An ability to be creative and spontaneous ● A desire for getting results ● An inner sense of security ● An ability to transform feedback into practical lessons
  14. 14. The ADAPT Cycle Resilience:Tune Ability to recover quickly and keep going People who show resilience tend to demonstrate: ● An optimistic view of the future ● A passion for achieving goals ● An ability to cope with stress ● An ability to manage self-defeating thoughts and feelings ● A high level of resourcefulness in coping with difficulties
  15. 15. The ADAPT CycleThe ADAPT Cycle can be useful before, during, or after a cross-cultural interaction:Before• Anticipate cultural differences by using a tool such as the TMA World Country Navigator.• When you have identified likely cultural differences between yourself and your counterpart(s):  Analyze possible challenges  Identify possible adaptations you can make to increase the probability of a productive interaction
  16. 16. The ADAPT CycleThe ADAPT Cycle can be useful before, during, or after a cross-cultural interaction:During• Pay attention to what is happening in real-time – are the challenges the ones you expected?• If not, slow down and return to the Analyze step  What unexpected differences are making an impact?  Revisit the Decide step as well to identify more appropriate adaptations you could make
  17. 17. The ADAPT CycleThe ADAPT Cycle can be useful before, during, or after a cross-cultural interaction:After(Review the interaction following the steps of the Cycle)• How well did I analyze the differences most likely to be encountered?• Did I choose the most appropriate adaptations based on my early analysis?• Did I apply the adaptations effectively?• Did I pay attention to how well my adaptations were making for a smooth and productive interaction?  Did I also pay attention to how I was responding?  And, did I self-manage my reactions to keep relations positive?• Did I make the right modifications when I needed to? What lessons have I learned?
  18. 18. The ADAPT CycleBy using The ADAPT Cycle, you will be able to:• Recognize your own strengths and developmental challenges in terms of cultural adaptability• Increase your productivity through applying greater cultural due diligence• Act more systematically in preparing for and managing cultural differences• Act more out of choice thanhabit in cross-cultural situations• Recognize the role your owncultural orientations play incross-cultural interactions
  19. 19. The ADAPT CycleBy using The ADAPT Cycle, you will be able to:• Approach cross-cultural relationships with patience - for yourself and others• Increase your tolerance for dealing with the ambiguity and uncertainty of cross-cultural relations• Increase your ability to ‘read’ cultural differences in real time rather than rely on stereotypes• More consciously and effectivelybuild bridges between culturaldifferences.
  20. 20. To learn more about how TMA World can help your organization, please contact us at or visit