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Adaptability: The Must-Have Skillset For Normal 2.0

Today’s challenges of exponential growth and unprecedented disruption demand a new approach.


Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at

In 1998, my late partner Roger Herman published a book called “Turbulence: Challenges and Opportunities in the World of Work; Are You Prepared for the Future?” In that book, Roger wrote a chapter called “The Adaptables,” about how these folks would be most in demand in the future. When I heard about the new focus on adaptability, my interest was piqued. My new podcast partner Ira Wolfe has been talking about complexity and agility in the form of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) for years. For almost as long, he had been looking for a way to effect the changes he saw were needed to help organizations cope with our fast-shifting environment.

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Adaptability Defined
Author of “The Adaptation Advantage: Let Go, Learn Fast, and Thrive in the Future of Work” (Wiley 2020), Heather McGowan, defines adaptability as “the skill to handle ambiguity, to both learn and unlearn in a changing environment.” Wolfe suggests, “adaptability is the ability to think about opportunity in the right way.” No one would dispute that, “In work as in life, evolutionary success belongs to those who can most readily adapt,” and I fully agree – as would Roger.

Enter AQ: Adaptability Quotient
Friends of Wolfe’s, Mike Raven and Ross Thornley, launched a moonshot initiative to ensure that no human is left as technology, business and people converge. They recognized a flaw in current change management and coaching approaches: the lack of a holistic measure of workplace adaptability. Through collaborations in business, academia and science, they designed developed, validated and launched a best-in-class assessment that now provides a complete view on adaptability. Wolfe recognized an immediate synergy. He saw the opportunity to use this tool in his work. For individuals, he saw the chance to bridge the gap between the status quo and Normal 2.0; and for organizations, he saw the opening to assess their team’s change-readiness and reskilling priorities. 


AQai: An Assessment to Determine your Adaptability Quotient
The AQai measures 15 dimensions of adaptability, which are divided into three categories: Ability, Character, and Environment. The most important of these categories is Ability, because each dimension can be learned and improved. The five dimensions are: Grit, Resilience, Mental Flexibility, Growth Mindset, and Unlearning. The dimensions for Character are Emotional Range (similar to EQ), Intra/Extraversion preference, Hope, Motivation Style, and Thinking Style. The dimensions for Environment are Company Support, Team Support, Emotional Health, Work Environment, and Work Stress. More than just a diagnostic tool, AQai is also prescriptive; it may be used as a coaching blueprint. Even the AQai ‘testing’ experience reflects the transformational times we live in. The assessment is completed through a conversation with AQai’s chatbot personality Aida. Imagine taking an assessment that’s fun!


An Extra Bonus for Teams
The goal of AQai’s moonshot is to help 100 million people adapt and thrive in the future. They have worked with UNESCO, Singularity University, and corporations like HSBC and IBM to boost adaptability and embrace opportunity.

Adaptability Skillset can be your Key to Success
Today’s challenges of exponential growth and unprecedented disruption demand a new approach. Recognized by some major players, including the World Economic Forum, Institute for the Future, and the Harvard Business Review, the ability to adapt has critical importance for both workers and organizations … quite possibly, the new competitive advantage. When people embrace adaptability, they can transcend uncertainty and reimagine opportunity. They feel hopeful and often feel the confidence and courage to grow and reach their human potential.


For an introduction to the importance and power of adaptability, watch this 11-minute mini-documentary film created by 15-time Emmy award-winning director Nick Nanton by clicking here. To enroll in the AQai masterclass, visit here


© Copyright 1998-2020 by The Herman Group, Inc. — reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From “The Herman Trend Alert,” by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3548 or To sign up, visit The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc.” 



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