In my view, intelligence is the ability of a person to process information to achieve the most optimal and beneficial result, contrary to what everyone thinks that is the amount of data that someone has. Stephen Hawking said that intelligence was the ability to adapt to change. Cognitive flexibility is a bit of both.
Cognitive flexibility is the capacity that people develop to find new solutions to a problem, where they evaluate and process experiences, information, errors, concepts and practices and manage to find the most optimal and beneficial outcome.
To clarify the definition, it’s the skill developed, in the face of continuous changes from outside or from the field where one works to find immediate answers and move on.
Having two environments, maybe someone can be fit to one, but not the other, because maybe that person developed a habit ability to give the same response to the same stimulus, but cognitive flexibility poses and measures the ability of a person to respond in a new, critical or aggressive environment with different response to optimize the results. Einstein said the phrase of the fish where intelligence was judged by its ability to climb a tree, and let’s say that if the fish developed the ability it could do.
Doing different activities for the same purpose, is part of the adaptation of cognitive flexibility, as well as, tolerate changes, adapt quickly, support errors and evolve quickly for the best solution.
An activity that magically develops cognitive flexibility is chess and has been demonstrated by several scientists, programmers and even chess players. Today there are even courses in companies to develop cognitive flexibility through chess. Without showing off, I practice chess since I was 4 years old thanks to my father’s learning. I can assure you that the usual practice of chess develops in the mind as “a magical analysis of options” where one quickly evaluates with many variables different results and chooses the most optional to achieve the “checkmate”. Google about chess and cognitive flexibility Heuristics has achieved great evolution thanks to its computer application in chess, to emulate the thinking of computer players.
In the Future of Work the cognitive flexibility is important because all people should have developed skills that allow them to adapt to large and aggressive changes. The digital future will be agilely evolutionary and we will have to face continuous changes, not only of learning, but of many behaviors as humans and in addition to interaction with technology.
For example, you are software developer and you start a new work day and when you see that after some changes you made yesterday, someone from the team made another change because the business changed a rule and cancelled our changes. Do you get angry with the client? Do you discuss the definition with the business? Do you insult the team’s leader for making you rework or ask you for changes without meaning? Do you eliminate the other teammate’s changes? Do you make your changes again? I know many crazy people who would do some of these things, hehe. But who has developed a cognitive flexibility, will understand the new change from the environment and will process his experience and knowledge to stand the change and continue to improve and even propose new solutions to which the teammate did.
Having that flexibility allows us to understand the causes and to develop our empathy.
Frustration by the continuous changes in the Future of Work could be the death of your professional career. Be cognitive flexible!