Learning Agility

I stumbled into IdeaCast from HBR a couple of weeks ago. First of all I love the title “IdeaCast”. You can’t pass up a pod-cast series with such a title. Like Knowledge@Wharton podcasts, this is an invaluable source of information. One of the pod-casts I listened to recently is about the Changing Role of Leaders. In this podcast Marshall Goldsmith talks about five of the new traits of a Future Leaders. Then Marshall goes on to add another (saying that he got it from one of the readers who commented on his blog post). He calls it Learning Agility.

The term appealed to me and I immediately Googled it and found this link.

It describes the common traits of learning agile people.

  • They are critical thinkers who examine problems carefully and make fresh connections with relative ease.
  • They know themselves well, leverage their strengths effectively and know how to compensate for their weaknesses.
  • They like to experiment and are comfortable with the discomfort that comes from change.
  • They deliver results in first-time situations through team-building and personal drive.

The author identifies a set of related characteristics, agile people may have:

  • Mental Agility -Ability to separate action from strategy and vision
  • Results Agility – Personal drive and presence
  • People Agility – Ability to build teams which includes Conflict Agility

I think Learning Agility is an important trait, for companies – especially startups. Most of the founders have it. A bigger challenge is to make it an essential ingredient of the startup culture.

4 thoughts on “Learning Agility

  1. Love the term.

    It seems that the analogy might be able to be continued further. Much like people get less agile physically over time, I would expect learning agility to diminish with age unless constantly revitalized.

  2. Thanks Sriram. I love the term too. I think the bigger challenge is how do you acquire it? And keep it? Is this something to be taught? How can you make an organization Learning Agile?

    I recommend that you listen to the original podcast as well. It deals with a different set of traits for Future Leaders.

  3. Vaibhav,
    It is an exciting area and is of interest to many companies. I am glad that I could provide something useful. I benefit a lot from many of your posts. That is the cool thing about blogs. Informal help desk – sometimes, you do not even know that you are finding and getting help.

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