The Adaptability Quotient: A new intelligence for a changing world
Patrick Psaila
February 3, 2023
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Our ability to adapt and create new ways of meeting challenges has always been critical to our survival. Paleoanthropologist Richard Potts, explains how human evolution, survival, and eventual dominance, is mostly due to the development of our large brain with an immense capability for adaptation. Modern human brains are social brains that give us the capacity for information sharing, creating, and passing on knowledge, and engaging in complex, large-scale collaboration. In this way, humans can adjust to new challenges and situations.

The COVID pandemic proved to be a classic example of a massive medical, social, economic, and psychological disruptor that has challenged our capacity for rapid adjustment and mass collaboration. We have witnessed incredible examples of adaptability in the way we work, play, socialize and live our lives. In a sense, the pandemic can be considered as a radical revelation regarding the need for agility, flexibility, and adaptability.

Adaptability is the extent to which we effectively manage, learn from, and thrive as we face the inevitability of change and it is now recognised as a critical human intelligence. It can measured and assessed through a ground-breaking innovative psychometric test developed by AQai. The test may be used with individuals, teams and organisations and has a wide variety of practical applications to coaching groups and individuals, identifying areas of strength and growth in teams, and transforming cultures in organisations. This is particularly relevant to our current work context which is characterised by rapid change, volatility, and uncertainty. In this environment, agile leadership and flexible organisations are fundamental to surviving and thriving.

The AQme and AQteam, are scientifically valid and reliable measures that may be used to enable and empower individuals, teams, and organisations in adapting effectively to change. The test measures adaptability across the three core dimensions of Ability, Character, and Work Environment. Each dimension has five sub-dimensions that together provide a comprehensive assessment of adaptability. This enables an in-depth analysis that can identify target areas for development through coaching, training, and consultancy.

For example, a leadership team may have a high overall AQ score but score significantly lower than average in one of the Ability subdimensions like Grit or Resilience. This can be an insightful revelation for team that is being coached to develop their ability to stay on course, follow through to reach important goals, or bounce back from failure and setbacks during changing or challenging times. The report generated by the AQme/team also provides practical support suggestions on how adaptability competencies may be developed.

Teams can also be assessed in the same way and the test report can indicate areas of adaptability where team members need to grow and develop. It can also guide leadership teams in identifying areas of the work environment that need to be addressed in order to create a change conducive and supportive culture in their organisation.

Adaptability is like a muscle that we can strengthen and develop with practice and training. While we cannot control or predict all the changes we will face, we can manage how we respond to them and become ourselves the initiators of change. By being proactive, by reading the signs of the times, and by using the right tools, we can often anticipate change and prepare for it in effectively. The inevitability of change need not be a constant threat to our wellbeing, but a force that makes our life and work a journey of learning that helps us become better, wiser, and stronger.

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