Intellectual Agility: The Key to Surviving 2020

June 16, 2020Insights

2020 is not business as usual, to say the least. We all watched the excitement of a new decade fade quickly to a world shut down. And things won’t feel anything close to normal for the foreseeable future.

As we emerge from the fog of quarantine, it is clear that we have a long road ahead before COVID-19 is under control. Pundits expect a recession. The trauma of the pandemic is real. On top of and alongside the health crisis, America is in a state of extreme unrest.

Business owners, you have a lot to navigate. And you’re going to do just that. The times are tough, and you have one specific predisposition that helps you rise to the challenge, be it COVID-19 or any other: intellectual agility.


What Is Intellectual Agility?

Simply put, intellectual agility is the ability to detect and evaluate multiple perspectives, digest changing factors, and devise new solutions. Technology, competition, production, relationships, communication, and the many other factors involved in running a business are evolving. That’s nothing new, but the pace is much faster in the current environment. What worked in the 2010s will not work in the 2020s. Intellectual agility underlies your ability to pivot, survive, and maybe even thrive in the throes of this pandemic. Let’s break it down…


All in Your Head

Intellectual agility starts in your own headspace. Listen to your people. Recognize the value of your team, both collectively and individually. Invite differing opinions from people you might not have considered before. Incorporate the totality of ideas into a new approach, a different answer, and a better solution.


Stay On Your Toes

We are all trying to position ourselves for the future and find our footing in crisis. Listening is crucial and a prerequisite to quickly implementing and iterating good ideas. Complacency and comfort are not options. Don’t be caught flat-footed!


Appreciate Your Team

In many ways, intellectual agility stems from being around a diverse group of smart people. Every person brings his or her own perspective to the discussion, and the team considers each to establish a course of action. If this sounds to you like a classic whiteboard session, that is certainly a great place to start.



Running a business is like sailing a boat; you always have to have your head on a swivel.  You may have a destination in mind, but getting there is never a straight line. You have to look far out into the distance to watch changing weather on the horizon, keep your head up to react to wind changes, occasionally look down to see current changes, quickly process the readings on the electronics, and, accordingly, direct the crew while taking in all of the information simultaneously.

Success is a moving target. There are different ways of achieving the desired result. We are resourceful. We are creative. We listen. We can help.