You presented a good analysis for this “Driveway Tax” case study from Mission, Kansas. When I read through the case study there were a couple of things I noted that the local government did, that, if they had been adaptive leaders, they may have been able to be more successful with the tax.
You stated that the local government did not exercise self-management leading to the next competency of not properly being able to properly facilitate the intervention. Knowing what you know about adaptive leadership and through the research you conducted for this week and in week 2, if you were a consultant to the local government in Mission, Kansas during this time, what suggestions/recommendations would you have provided to aid them in achieving a different outcome?
Read the case study, “Redeveloping Mission and the ‘Driveway Tax’ Controversy”.
Adaptive Leadership Notes
The premise of leadership as an adaptive challenge versus a technical fix is an approach promoted by Heifetz (1994) and Heifetz and Linsky (2002). The common metaphor portrays adaptive problems as “clouds” in contrast to technical problems, which are seen as “clocks.” You fix clocks; you cannot fix clouds—sometimes you cannot even get your hands around them. Technical fixes are relatively easy—a clock can be repaired. Adaptive challenges are more complex; it is impossible to “repair” a “cloud” and in that sense, there is most likely not one correct answer but a series of possibilities and experiments to be considered in order to get your arms around the cloud. Adaptive leadership examines the difficult challenges encountered with non-technical problems or—even more challenging—problems which have both clock and cloud attributes.
By introducing the concept of adaptive challenges to the discussion of leadership, Heifetz addresses a dilemma that emerges when leaders face perplexing problems that defy standard responses. Often the challenge in business and community arises through common structures that rely on traditional notions of command and control. Heifetz’s notion of adaptive work is built on the idea of engagement—engaging the problem, engaging the environment, engaging the people—all in experimental fashion in what often is a successive process of leadership and engagement. Civically engaged citizens face more adaptive challenges than technical fixes within a community. Perplexing community issues are adaptive challenges that often require bringing all the stakeholders to the table and managing the factions that emerge and argue against decision making solely by institutional actors—such as city or county officials. In an adaptive challenge, no single correct answer exists. Rather, a “better” answer is sought by bringing factions of engaged leaders, employees, and citizens together to negotiate among competing interests to find a collective answer which speaks to potential losses as well as gains in building common goals and values.
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