What is Adaptive Competence? In simple terms, it may be defined as the “capacity to respond” within “bounded parameters”.

Adaptive Competence is understood better in the context of two other forms of competence: “Generative competence” and “Delivered competence”.


Generative Competence is the capacity of an individual to respond freely and creatively to a challenge – using competence or skill as a mere platform for creative action. For example, a great artist will use the skills and competencies associated with painting as a mere platform through which his creative excellence reveals itself.

Delivered Competence, on the other hand, is the capacity to deliver a certain set of predictable results using skills and processes in predefined and specific ways. For example, a worker in a manufacturing unit engages with the work around him in specific and defined ways such that the results demanded from him or her are delivered consistently and predictably.

Adaptive Competence is the space in-between. It represents the continuum between these two extremes of pure creativity and pure process. In the space called Adaptive Competence, responses are creative but within boundaries, results are predictable but with space for interpretation – people are capable of executing, yet are given the space to innovate.

This space called Adaptive Competence may become the dominant space for human action in the age of knowledge-work and sustained innovation.