Learning Agility: What it is, Why it Matters, What You Can Do

Learning Agility: What it is, Why it Matters, What You Can Do

Learning Agility, a core career and life skill, is a set of integrated behaviors that involve a person deliberately seeking new and challenging experiences, receiving and applying feedback along the way, and regularly reflecting on what they’re learning.
 
This practice is, in a nutshell, “learning how to learn.” George Hallenbeck of the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) defines four key components of learning agility:
 
  1. Seeking. Developing learning agility requires an intentional willingness to immerse yourself in new and challenging situations that broaden and expand your experiences.
  2. Sense-Making. Learning from experience is a highly active and ongoing process marked by curiosity and a willingness to experiment and even fail.
  3. Internalizing. Seeking feedback and taking time to reflect are critical for deepening insight and embedding critical lessons for recall and application.
  4. Applying. Learning agile individuals excel at “adaptive learning,” accessing principles and rules of thumb from previous experiences and applying them to navigate new and challenging situations.
 
These four core components of learning agility occur in sequence over the course of a learning experience. And then the sequence is repeated with each new experience.
 
Why Learning Agility Matters
 
According to Hallenbeck. individuals high in learning agility outperform peers; learn new information more quickly; learn how to interact more effectively; adapt well to working globally; get promoted more frequently; and are less likely to derail. 
 

When you consider the major disruptors we’re dealing with in today’s global econony, learning agility stands out as a core skill needed for any professional in any field. Things will keep changing, rapidly–and, therefore, we need to keep learning. And not just learn, but learn in a strategic, deliberate manner, in the nature of Hallenbeck’s steps listed above.

Here below, I’ve curated a long list of learning agility habits. Don’t try to master all of these habits at once. Do pick a couple to focus on for a while and get better at.  
 
Learning Agility Habits:
 
Accept diversity
Accept the reality of disruption
Admit when you don’t know something
Ask for help
Ask open-ended questions
Be agile
Be curious
Be interested in other people’s needs and wants
Be resilient
Develop your intuition
Discover and develop your strengths
Get comfortable with change and ambiguity
Hang out with people who are different from you
Improve your business acumen
Innovate
Iterate
Learn a language or two
Learn all the time
Learn from mistakes
Learn how to fix things around the house
Learn more about algorithms
Learn more about artificial intelligence
Learn more about biotechnology
Learn more about climate change
Learn more about industrial complexes
Learn more about national and international debt
Learn more about neuroscience
Learn who suffers the most because of “the way things are”
Listen to podcasts
Make connections and find synergies
Mentor
Pursue clarity over simply more information (while gathering the most valuable information)
Read
Receive and apply feedback
Re-invent yourself
Risk failure
Seek new challenges
Study
Take on more responsibility at work or a stretch assignment
Think across disciplines
Think bigger and bolder
Think critically
Think holistically
Think integrally
Think strategically
Travel
Use the library
 
 
In my work, I write, strategize, and coach about how to develop three core skills in particular–mindfulness, learning agility, and storytelling, and their corresponding habits. These are the skills that will help us thrive amid disruptive possibilities such as AI, Big Data Algorithms, and Biotechnology, and make wise, courageous choices in the face of Climate Change, Industrial Complexes, and the National Debt.
 
Curious to learn more? Check out the blogs and books that are already here and join our learning community to receive exclusive content on a monthly basis.

 



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