I just completed my 20th year of delivering executive programs for the Securities Industry Institute in partnership with the Wharton School of Business. In addition to the sessions I usually offer on strategy, leadership, and organizational culture, I put together two new workshops this year. The first was on building resilient organizations, and the other was on how to improve your AQ (adaptability quotient). More than ever, organizations must be adaptable, agile, nimble, and resilient to survive in today’s marketplace. However, organizations are not adaptable. People who have a high AQ create organizational adaptability. Here are what I believe are four core elements for personal adaptability.


1. Curiosity

Develop an insatiable desire to learn new ideas and skills constantly. Critically important to this practice is the willingness to look outside of your industry and pursue information from multiple sources. Combining your personal experience with innovative ideas is what leads to innovative strategies.

2. Intellectual Rigor

It’s not enough to just read information, listen to audiobooks, and watch YouTube videos. You must invest the mental effort necessary to understand what you are learning at a deeper level. Then think about precisely how to apply it to your organization.

3. Flexible Thinking

When you practice intellectually rigorous curiosity, you’re going to come across ideas that seem uncomfortable or even in direct contradiction with what you have done in the past. Flexible thinkers are willing to try out new ways of doing things, question their assumptions, and let go of old beliefs that no longer work.

4. Speed

The most challenging part of building your AQ is that you must do it in a fast cycle. You must invest time every day to take in new information that you can apply quickly to solve pressing problems. Speed wins.


Because I love to put everything into an equation…

(Curiosity + Intellectual Rigor + Flexible Thinking) x Speed = AQ

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