Is Dante’s Hell a view of adaptive challenges? If so, hold onto that moral compass.

I recently watched a TED talk by Dan Leahy – The Dance of Learning Meets the Adaptive Challenge.

In the talk Dan uses HeifetzGlashow and Linsky’s need for adaptive change which is about facing the unknown and having to learn new skills to solve, as yet, unanswered questions. He liken’s these inquiries to Dante’s Inferno (pictured below) for it will take courageous curiosity, leaders like Virgil (who helped Dante enter these gates of hell), a little balcony viewing, compassion for our human side and our capacity for error, and generative conversations to see the journey through. Its quite a vivid image – one that might put inquiries off.

When Dante entered the gates of hell he had to survive nine concentric circles of torment. The last circle was treachery or betrayal which unfortunately might be apt for leaders of adaptive change. The constant courageous yet compassionate challenging of often unsubstantiated opinion or deafening silence that define the fight or flight walls built by many mean leaders cannot always see those who conspire against the question or inquiry. So perhaps Dan’s vivid image wasn’t so far off – I wonder?

So as leaders of these adaptive challenges we need to a strong moral purpose to stay the course (a little of Virgil helps). In Dan’s case it was his grandson, who if he posed the question why didn’t you try Dan to change …. that for me he might answer … I tried and these were some of the effects.

To my colleagues in practice who have just completed the Data Wise course at Harvard I have loved your tweets and wish you all hope in your journeys as you take that adaptive change to your communities. To my colleagues here in Australia as you wind up term 2 (and the reporting season) recharge your batteries for the journey is not yet complete.

So what’s your moral purpose?