Is ‘AQ’ more important than intelligence? Educating for an Uncertain Future

By Seb Murray, originally published in Nov. 2019 on the BBC website, Worklife 101 .

As workplaces change, is it enough to be smart? Enter AQ, the capacity to adapt that may well determine your future career success.

Once, if you wanted to assess how well someone might do climbing the career ladder, you might have considered asking them to take an IQ test. For years, it was thought that the intelligence quotient (IQ) test – which measures memory, analytical thinking and mathematical ability – was one of the best ways to predict our future job prospects.

More recently, there has been increased attention on emotional intelligence (EQ), broadly characterised as a set of interpersonal, self-regulation and communication skills. EQ is now widely seen as a tool kit that plays an important role in helping us succeed in multiple aspects of life.

Both IQ and EQ are considered important to our career success. But today, as technology redefines how we work, the skills we need to thrive in the job market are evolving too. Enter adaptability quotient, or AQ, a subjective set of qualities loosely defined as the ability to pivot and flourish in an environment of fast and frequent change.

“IQ is the minimum you need to get a job, but AQ is how you will be successful over time,” says Natalie Fratto, a New York-based vice-president at Goldman Sachs who became interested in AQ when she was investing in tech start-ups. She has subsequently presented a popular TED talk on the subject.

Fratto says AQ is not just the capacity to absorb new information,but the ability to work out what is relevant, to unlearn obsolete knowledge, overcome challenges, and to make a conscious effort to change. AQ involves flexibility, curiosity, courage, resilience and problem-solving skills too.

As society changes, could AQ be more crucial to career success than IQ? If so, how do you identify it – and is there a way to hone AQ to future-proof your career?

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