Neuro-agility is a construct whose time has come. Based on the research of future business trends and needs, as well as researching agility constructs, Dr. André Vermeulen has identified gaps that needed to be addressed to be able to help people and organizations be more agile to cope with the demands of disruptive change. He has conceptualized this construct as neuro-agility.
Neuro-agility is a competence that helps all people be more employable, successful, effective, competitive and change agile. Being neuro agile, or not, will determine whether we dive, survive or thrive in a rapidly changing, technologically advanced world. To understand what neuro-agility is, we need to clarify our understanding of some basic concepts first.
Brain = the mass of nerve tissue in the skull. It integrates sensory information and directs motor responses. It is your center for learning and thinking.
Mind = your mental processes, thoughts and consciousness. It is the sum total of our thoughts, emotions, behavior and intelligence.
The brain is an organ but the mind isn’t. The brain is the physical place where the mind resides. There is a constant interplay between brain and mind. What happens in the brain will impact the mind and vice versa. The brain and mind are one functional system and can’t be seen as two separate entities.
Neuro = nerves, the brain and the nervous system.
Agility = the power of moving fast and easy’ and ‘the flexibility to think, learn and draw conclusions quickly.
Neuro-agility, therefore, is the term that relates to optimizing all the brain-mind elements that impact the ease, speed and flexibility with which the brain processes information. It is about having a fast, focused and flexible mind. Neuro-agility is the integrated functioning of all the physical brain regions with the mental faculties of the mind.
Neuro-agility manifests in the brain functioning optimally as one whole brain system, having the mental flexibility and brain agility to utilize all learning and thinking functions of the brain fast, easy and simultaneously in new first-time, stressful conditions. It enables people to engage their whole brain effortlessly during cognitive processes like learning, thinking, complex problem solving and decision making. Neuro agility underpins the brain’s ability to be in flow, committing as little human error, mistakes and accidents as possible.
Being neuro agile is a competence you develop. It should not be confused with having strong natural mental faculties like having superior intelligence, strong personality, exceptional memory, or being strong-willed. Having strong mental faculties does not mean that people are brain fit or mentally flexible, which the concept of neuro-agility is all about.
Neuro-agility is a universal need, relevant to all people who need to learn, think, and process information fast and easy and be flexible to adapt to the challenges of constant disruptive change in the workplace and society. Neuro-agile people have the mental flexibility to access and utilize all brain regions simultaneously in order for them to be whole-brain thinkers and learners who function at optimum level. More specifically, a person’s neuro-agility will be a strong indicator of current and future performance in complex tasks and challenging situations.
For athletes to be at the top of their game and very competitive, they do not only have to execute their skills with accuracy and precision but also need to have the fitness and agility that will allow them to execute those skills with ease, speed and flexibility in tough, competitive and stressful conditions.
Just like ballet dancers need the agility to move quickly and easily, executing their dancing skills with beauty accuracy and precision, today’s workers need the neuro-agility to learn, think and draw conclusions fast and easy and be flexible in moving across ideas, experiences and understandings fast and easy, in order to be able to maximize the learning value of any experience and apply that learning in new circumstances.
Being neuro agile is not optional anymore, but mandatory. An agile brain, powered by skills to solve complex problems, make accurate decisions fast, and the cognitive flexibility to access the full range of all thinking and learning modalities simultaneously, is your competitive advantage, and the secret ingredient for individual, team, and organizational success in a technologically advanced world.