Cognitive agility refers to mindful practice of openness to possibilities, ability to shift between zoom-out and zoom-in perspectives and flexibility to run-time generate alternatives/ decisions.
If you are looking to move to strategic roles in your organisation with dynamic decision making, cognitive agility is a key skill to develop and practice.
Most middle managers I coach ponder on how they can show-up as "ready" for key strategic roles.
While many are very competent in what they do currently, what they additionally need perhaps are cognitive agility (covered here) and strategic thinking (subject of another blog you can find here).
If someone lacks cognitive agility, they come across as
Narrow in thought
Polar responses (Always, never, their way or high-way)
If someone has sound levels of cognitive agility they come across as
Diverse/Broad in thought
What are the building blocks to develop cognitive agility?
1. Pay Attention to Listening Posts
We gain knowledge from various sources including customers, teams, other stakeholders, books, future trends, thought leaders etc. To develop cognitive agility, a base level of current knowledge in domain/technology/business is required.
Being well read, well networked and plugged into the 'conversations that matter' on relevant areas to the organisation is a starting point to be prepared for dynamic decision making. Invest & build your listening posts. Actively & mindfully listen to them.
2. Scale ability to Traverse DIKW continuum (Data - Information - Knowledge - Wisdom)
The ability to extract wisdom from data run time, by holding multiple view points at the same time is the hallmark of openness & flexibility. This also seeds innovation. How quickly can you articulate in layman terms what the data says, what it means and what is the possibility around it is what one needs to develop. Your ability to aggregate, separate, deduct and induct, synthesise, story tell ( yes basic mathematics and moral science inferences :-) are crucial for this.
3. Sense fractals and abstract
Fractals are seemingly complex patterns that are similar across different scales. The ability to spot a pattern, see it individually and see it along with a whole is an important skill in perception and abstraction. This builds the zoom-out, zoom-in capability. It also helps in connecting the dots.
4. Think laterally
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. ~ Albert Einstein Sometimes what we need is out-of-box thinking to get out of the rut. Thinking in alternatives, adjacents, new uses, new markets, requires us to wear our lateral thinking hat. This will infuse a new element in what is already there and lead to new possibilities.
What is your go-to method to be ready for strategic roles?