Learning Agility. It’s the №1 predictor of career success and an essential attribute in this VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity)world.
What is Learning Agility?
It’s our ability and willingness to learn from experience and apply that learning to perform successfully in new and challenging situations. It encompasses five factors:
Mental Agility-Open to complexity, examining problems in different ways, considering fresh connections, staying curious
People Agility — Open-minded and brings out the best int others, enjoys engaging with diverse groups
Change Agility — Willingness to lead change initiatives, continuously exploring new options
Results Agility — Delivering results in tough situations, responding to challenge, inspiring others to achieve more than they thought possible
Self-Awareness — Being reflective, understanding strengths and weaknesses, seeking feedback and personal insight
This combination of factors depict an agile learner: a person who is brave enough to take on a new project, situation or challenge and risk failure, has the self-awareness to reflect on the outcomes, and the flexibility to apply this learned knowledge and skills in new situations going forward.
In this post pandemic world, we all need to strengthen our capacity for learning agility to more effectively respond, pivot and adapt.
How can we cultivate Learning Agility?
Innovate-Challenge existing assumptions and identify new ways of doing things. It’s important to change up our everyday context and actively seek out different experiences and make new connections. Access to other people ensures fresh ideas and perspectives which are critical for learning agility. It broadens our knowledge base and enables us to generate different ideas as we view challenges from different perspectives. When facing a challenge, we need to come up with several ways to answer the problem. This includes taking a multi-sensory approach and applying our less-used senses e.g. try drawing the problem, tell it as a story or a screen play to identify possible new solutions.
Perform– Learning from experience is most likely when we face a new and unfamiliar challenge. To learn from these challenges, we need to stay present and engaged, manage our stress and continually adapt to perform. We need to be observant, actively listen and then take action.
Reflect-Regularly reflect on past events, what went well and what you could have done differently/better. Ask for specific feedback-this amplifies our ability to see ourselves, our beliefs and our behaviours through a new lens. Ask colleagues, managers, or direct reports for their insights into projects you’ve led, actions you’ve taken, and how you’ve managed specific situations. Then, think about future actions and come up with concrete ways to apply what you’ve learned with the intention of improving or changing what you do going forward.
Risk-Seek out company projects and initiatives where the path to success isn’t obvious-it’s a great opportunity to learn and grow. This failure will provide invaluable feedback and insight into how to succeed going forward. Learning agile people fail intelligently-they reflect on what happened, refine what they’ve learnt and apply this learning to future challenges.
It’s our ability and willingness to learn from experience and apply that learning to perform successfully in new and challenging situations that comprises our learning agility.
Over to you, what aspect of learning agility is easiest for you and what are you actively doing to deepen your learning agility in other contexts?