Sometimes it feels like you’re always in training. You’ve just mastered one skill when a new theory hits your workplace. Rapid technological change means workers must keep learning, to the point where an ability to adapt – your adaptability quotient (AQ) – is becoming the X-factor for career success.
As Amy Edmondson from Harvard Business School points out, whether you “lead a global corporation, advise clients, practice medicine, build homes or work in one of today’s state-of-the-art factories … you are a knowledge worker”. As such, you must collaborate with others to solve problems and “accomplish work that’s perpetually changing”.
The good news is that scientists agree AQ is not fixed – it can be developed. Theory U by Otto Scharmer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests three elements can help provide a framework: keeping an open mind, so you see the world with fresh eyes and remain open to possibilities; keeping an open heart, so you can try to see any situation through another person’s eyes; and keeping an open will, letting go of identity and ego to sit with the discomfort of the unknown.
So will you need to showcase AQ for your next job interview? It may happen sooner than you think – check out the selection criteria for the Mars One space programme. Adaptability is one of the five essential attributes for astronaut candidates.