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Join Michael Arena (former Plexus Board Chair) for a conversation on his research and new book Adaptive Space, which reveals how companies are transforming themselves into responsive, agile organizations suited for the age of disruption by enabling individual employees to connect and create across networks—the best way for any company to unleash creative potential from within.

The book highlights four key network roles—brokers, connectors, energizers and challengers—that all organizations need in order to enable “Adaptive Space.” These roles help to facilitate the movement of ideas and information across the firm, and therefore, enable the organization to positively disrupt itself.

Organizations are faced with a critical choice: disrupt or be disrupted. They need to adapt, in real time, in response to the changing demands of their environments. In the era of disruption, organizations need to be more liquid than static. This is where adaptive space comes into play. Adaptive space can be thought of as the relational and emotional freedom for people to freely explore, exchange, and debate ideas. It operates as a sort of free-trade zone for ideas, by tapping into the power of network dynamics, adaptive space creates connections that serve to discover, develop, and diffuse new ideas into and across an organization. For organizations to be agile, they need to openly scan across and beyond the organization for the next big thing. Then they need to think about how to bring an idea into the world in a more tangible manner. Finally, they need to scale these concepts throughout the organization to enable a new normal by positively disrupting itself. 

Michael J. Arena, Ph.D. is a leading expert in organizational network analysis and his work has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Chief Executive Magazine, Harvard Business Review, Business Insider and Sloan Management Review. Arena is also the Chief Talent Officer for GM and has played a critical role in the company’s transformation. He launched GM2020, a grass roots initiative designed to enable employees to positively disrupt the way they work, which was highlighted in Fast Company. Arena teaches in Penn’s Masters in Organizational Dynamics program and acts as a design thinking coach within the Stanford dSchool. He also spent two years as a visiting scientist within MIT’s Media Lab and served as a Senior Vice President of Leadership Development at Bank of America.

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