Adaptability Book Summary - Adaptability Book explained in key points
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Adaptability summary

Max McKeown

The Art of Winning in an Age of Uncertainty

4.4 (98 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

Adaptability by Max McKeown is a practical guide that explains why adaptability is important and how to develop it. It provides practical strategies and tools to help individuals and organizations thrive in a rapidly changing world.

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    Life is unpredictable even for the successful, which is why adaptability is so important.

    In 2009, American golf star Tiger Woods’s position in the sport’s global rankings took a nosedive. By 2011 he’d slipped from number one to 58th place. It was an odd sight, especially as Woods had been known for his incredible consistency since bursting onto the scene in 1996. So what went wrong? 

    Well, it was a sign of the golfing god’s mortality. Life is unpredictable, and even the most successful people can’t always dodge the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. It turned out that Woods’s on-field performance problems had roots in his personal life.

    In 2009, the media ran a story about him crashing his car outside his house. Neighbors told reporters they’d seen his wife chasing after him with a golf club in her hands. Rumors of substance abuse and infidelity began circulating and major sponsors including Gatorade and Gillette dropped their formerly prized sponsee.

    Woods didn’t let any of that get to him, however. In fact, he demonstrated just how important adaptability is when you’re faced with setbacks. He continued working hard, even as his stats slipped, and learned how to deal with the media pressure he was under. His perseverance paid off. By March 2013, he was back at the top of world golf rankings.

    That makes Woods a poster boy for what the author calls, “High adaptability, high achievement people,” or HAHAs for short. That’s a pretty fitting acronym: HAHAs are people who can laugh in the face of adversity and, over time, claw their way back to the top. 

    What sets them apart is their ability to focus on solutions rather than problems. They look on the bright side of life even as things seem to be falling apart around them, and they remain determined to achieve their goals. They’re also typically unafraid to ask for help and reach out to people who can support them in their struggle to reassert themselves. 

    But these blinks aren’t just about golf. Now that we’ve seen what adaptability looks like in practice, let’s take a look at how it works in the business context.

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    What is Adaptability about?

    Adaptability (2012) examines a skill that’s becoming ever more important in today’s fast-paced and highly fickle business environment: the ability to adapt. It’s what makes the difference between successful innovators who go on to thrive and stick-in-the-muds who struggle to survive – or simply go under. Packed with illuminating portraits of both, these blinks analyze adaptability in action everywhere from the golf course to the battlefield and the boardroom.

    Adaptability Review

    Adaptability by Max McKeown (2020) is a thought-provoking book about how to thrive and succeed in an ever-changing world. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers concrete strategies to help individuals and organizations navigate uncertainty and embrace change, providing practical tools for adaptability.
    • Backed by research and real-world examples, the book effectively demonstrates the importance of adaptability in personal and professional growth.
    • With its engaging storytelling and insightful analysis, the book keeps readers hooked, ensuring that the topic of adaptability remains anything but boring.

    Best quote from Adaptability

    People severely damaged by strokes...could now be rehabilitated by accessing the brains inbuilt adaptability.

    —Max McKeown
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    Who should read Adaptability?

    • Entrepreneurs and self-starters
    • Managers and strategists
    • Marketplace Machiavellis

    About the Author

    Max McKeown is a consultant who’s worked with some of the world’s biggest firms, including Microsoft, Virgin, Sony, and Vodafone. When he’s not helping business leaders fine-tune their strategic planning, you’ll find McKeown on the lecture circuit giving talks on innovation, creating engagement, and securing a competitive advantage. His previous books include The Truth About Innovation (2008) and The Strategy Bank (2012).


    © Max McKeown, 2012. This Summary of Adaptability is published by arrangement with Kogan Page.

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    Adaptability FAQs 

    What is the main message of Adaptability?

    The main message of Adaptability is the importance of being able to adjust to change and thrive in an unpredictable world.

    How long does it take to read Adaptability?

    The reading time for Adaptability varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Adaptability a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Adaptability is a valuable read for anyone looking to navigate the challenges of an ever-changing world. It offers practical insights and strategies for embracing change and thriving in uncertain times.

    Who is the author of Adaptability?

    The author of Adaptability is Max McKeown.

    What to read after Adaptability?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Adaptability, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Mastering Leadership by Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams
    • Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields
    • Stop Self-Sabotage by Dr. Judy Ho
    • Reinventing Your Life by Jeffrey E. Young and Janet S. Klosko
    • Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace
    • Anticipate by Rob-Jan de Jong
    • Either/Or by Soren Kierkegaard
    • The Job-Ready Guide by Anastasia de Waal
    • The Discomfort Zone by Marcia Reynolds
    • Switch Craft by Elaine Fox