Heifetz’s Adaptive Work

… a core concept in Leadership Skills and Atlas 109

AdaptiveWorkConcept description

Adaptive work, an concept developed by Ron Heifetz and his colleagues at the Harvard Kennedy School, is the work required by an individual or a group to adapt to survive and thrive in a changing world.

“Adapting to human challenges requires that we go beyond the requirements of simply surviving. In human societies, adaptive work consists of efforts to close the gap between reality and a host of values not restricted to survival. We perceive problems whenever circumstances do not conform to the way we think things ought to be. Thus, adaptive work involves not only the assessment of reality but also the clarification of values.” Heifetz, 1994, page 31.


RA Heifetz, Leadership Without Easy Answers (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994). For an open access source, with details on further references, see Adaptive Work by Ron Heifetz in the Journal of the Kansas Leadership Center, Spring 2010 at https://www.emporia.edu/dotAsset/cc6c29e4-0475-48fd-b9ec-55619cc49bdd.pdf, accessed 5 January 2016.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

The Study of Leadership and Communication (core topic) in Leadership Skills and Atlas 109.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 5 January 2016.

Image: From MasteringPhysics at http://www.pearsonmylabandmastering.com/northamerica/masteringphysics/educators/features/index.html, accessed 5 January 2016.