Discovering Your Adaptability Quotient In An Ever-Changing World With Ross Thornley And Mike Raven

In this ever-changing world that we live in, remaining stagnant no longer works. For this reason and many others, Ross Thornley and Mike Raven founded AQai. In this episode, Ross and Mike talk about what drew them into the adaptability space and how they ended up working together. They discuss how their work focuses on discovering adaptability, and share some of the things they see that will remain the same as well as those that will be different, considering the world we live in now. To further explain, they then give an overview interpretation of Dr. Diane Hamilton’s adaptability assessment scores and what she can improve. Mike and Ross also debunk the potential myths and misconceptions around the whole area of assessments.

TTL 700 | Adaptability Quotient


I’m glad you joined us because we have Ross Thornley and Mike Raven who are Cofounders at AQai. They’ve developed an adaptability assessment that’s fascinating because it’s a metric of measuring adaptability.

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Discovering Your Adaptability Quotient In An Ever-Changing World With Ross Thornley And Mike Raven

AQai offers adaptability assessments and coaching and their work focuses on discovering adaptability and the Adaptability Quotient, AQ, which is a metric of adaptability. This is exciting to have you guys on. Welcome, Ross and Mike.

Thank you. It’s a real pleasure.

Thank you, Diane. It’s great to be here.

I know I’ve had a chance to speak to Mike in the past and this is the first I’ve had a chance to speak to Ross. Ross, you function as the CEO?

That’s right. Mike and I have been working together for a long time and that’s my main focus.

I know Mike and I’ve had time to go over what you guys do there and I’m impressed by your work. In fact, I had made few introductions because I thought there are many people you guys should be talking to. This is a cool idea that you’ve had in general of measuring adaptability. It’s such an important part, especially right now, of how everybody gets along in the workplace. I want to go back before we talk about AQai to how you guys got interested in this, how you two ended up working together and a background. Why don’t we start with you, Ross?

A bit of background, Mike and I first met in a branded marketing agency that I founded and ran for over seventeen and a half years. Mike joined as my right-hand person and as a core director and leadership role to scale that business that focused a lot around innovation and partnerships. As we took focusing on the adaptability of what we’re doing now, we sold that business and went into more of alignment of mission and passion. It was aligned with the sustainable development goals of the UN’s global goals and their 2030 agenda. We were doing innovation workshops to help large organizations do what we call Moonshot Innovation. It was right at the edge, right at the fringe of technology and big ambitious goals aligned to those to-do lists of the UN as we like to call it at the time. One of the biggest barriers that we were noticing in organizations was not a technological one. It was more a human one and how they did or didn’t adapt to new information or new opportunities. That’s where we started to uncover a sense of a word of adaptability and what it means and how it can shift from adapt or die. That took us on an adventure for a couple of years to research it and bring us to where we are now. I’m sure Mike can add a little more flavor to that, but that’s a quick synopsis.

That’s an interesting perspective because that adaptability was probably something that you found foundational to the way we did business. Imagine the changes now even more so because of what the world is experiencing. This is in the middle of the COVID crisis. I would like to know a little more about Mike’s background, even though I got a little bit of it the last time we spoke. For everybody who doesn’t know you, Mike, can you give us your background as well?

[bctt tweet=”One of the biggest barriers in organizations is not a technological one, but more a human one.” username=””]

My background is similar to Ross’s. It was in marketing and brand. I worked on a lot of experiential campaigns with large organizations, global organizations. I work with the likes of Microsoft, AMD, Cisco, Apple, and that was a learning curve for me of understanding the world of big business. Essentially, how psychology plays a huge role in decision-making. Eventually, I got to the point where I had that almost crisis of ethics. A lot of people go through that at a certain point in their lives. I went on a bit of a mission around the world and met some incredible people, decided on my return that I needed to find somebody who’s entrepreneurial that’s got aligned mindsets and along that similar ethical journey as me. I was super lucky to meet Ross. We clicked straight away. It didn’t take long for us to start working together. I got this super energy from him. I could see the ambition was huge, which was important to me. The ambition of impact and significant impact in the world, if that makes sense.

I distinctly remember we both bounced ideas off of each other all the time. Ross came back from Singularity University where we went through the executive program and started talking about AQ. My ears perked up and it started to become a common theme in a lot of our sessions of thinking about the future and our own journey and what we’re creating for the world. From being his best man at his wedding, which was a proud moment. We know we’ve got a huge 25, 30, 40-year journey ahead of us as well, maybe even longer. Longevity these days we could be living for a long time and that makes the world exciting.

I am listening to what both of you are talking about and it ties in so much to what I’ve done with my research in emotional intelligence, EQ, curiosity and the things that I’ve developed. Psychology does play a huge role in business. It’s so fascinating to study all these things and how they interact. I can remember writing about it years ago on a book I co-wrote with my daughter. We focused on all these different personality assessments. Once you get interested and looking at how we quantify some of this stuff, it’s addictive to try and get to that point. I watched something from Ross or I read it, I can’t remember. I made a note that your StrengthsFinder number one was Futuristic. Is that correct?

That is one of my top five. You might be right that it is number one.

I was looking at mine and I haven’t taken it in a long time and I had Rath on my show. Mine’s Achiever. As you look at your StrengthsFinder and your different personality assessments, the ones that are important, we want them to be valid, reliable and all that. I know you did all the validity and reliability, all the testing to make sure that this assessment that you guys came up with was measuring what you want to measure and that’s important. How did you get into that mindset from going to Singularity University? Ross, I’m curious.

I came to Singularity University through Strategic Coach. I’ve been part of Strategic Coach and Dan Sullivan for a number of years. I’ve been traveling every quarter to Toronto from the UK to have a workshop session. Also to Chicago when they launched the Free Zone Frontier Program. It was all about collaborations and transforming industries rather than growing, saying your market share or your own plot of organizational real estate, as it were. In my 10X group was Peter Diamandis, who founded SU. I was part of A360, his elite group that looked at exponential technologies in the future. That led me through curiosity, something you know lots about to Singularity University. We were lucky in terms of the cohort that we went there with because the executive program often had different teams from large organizations coming together but wasn’t necessarily aligned in their mindset or thinking.

Our group was all from the A360 community. There was already this fostered understanding of each other and what we wanted to do in the world. The levels of collaboration and conversations that came out of SU were very deep and have helped us on our journey ever since in terms of looking for unique capabilities to solve important challenges. SU had a profound impact, not necessarily there the place on the NASA research part, which has now moved, but the sense of the people that go there and what impression that has.

As I’m listening to some of the things that led to the next thing, it reminds me of the training that I’ve gone through, what you’re talking about. I remember training teams that were not aligned and thinking necessarily. We tend to see more effective outputs I’ve found in teams that weren’t exactly all the same type of people. If you have everybody the same on a team, you will get more of a boring product. It’s been my experience. There are many challenges though with different types of personalities getting along. We’re talking about the future and how to see the future of work when everybody’s becoming more and more different. How do you see things changing based on trying to solve challenges? We’re in one of the biggest challenges we need to solve. What do you see will stay the same and what will be different?

TTL 700 | Adaptability Quotient
Adaptability Quotient: It’s important to establish who you’re spending time with to give yourself that ability to be ready for a different future.


It’s a big question, isn’t it? We all wish we could see into the future. You have the likes of Ray Kurzweil, who has such a high success rate in predicting things. It’s important to establish who you’re spending time with, the thinking that’s going on in those groups. The being selective about what you listen to, what you’re reading, what you’re digesting to give yourself that glimpse and ability to be ready for a very different future. We’re experiencing such sudden and expanding change because of the COVID crisis. We won’t be going back to the normal way we all knew.

Every industry and every job. If we’re looking at education, healthcare employment itself, it’s going to be very different. What we believe is there’s going to be different currencies in the future. Everyone has a different perception of what currency is. A currency of adaptability in the context of business, of careers, of navigating your way through a very busy life, which we all seem to have. It’s an influx of business for the sake of being busy is super interesting. Diane, you mentioned training and things like that are important. People having mentors and mentors, not in a sense of ways of it’s a person who’s a mentor, but they’re the network around them. In the context of AQ, we call it environments. What is that environment doing for your own mindset for your AQ? Mental health, it’s clearly still getting worse and I’m lucky to work with Ross who is an extreme optimist. Rightly so, you build optimism from the information that you gather as well as your own character. I’ve certainly benefited from that. Whether he benefits from my pessimism now and again, I don’t know, you’d have to ask him.

What will stay the same and what will be different? We still pursue connection to be valued, to give value. How we do that might change. In the context of adaptability, we don’t mean this about being flexible. When you dig into that there are many different components of your resilience, your grit or your ability to unlearn processes. Mike talked there about optimism. Hope is a key part of adapting, to have hope that there’s a future. What we’re seeing, we’re entering a period, a nice acronym called VUCA, which is Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. It came around after the Cold War to describe the world that’s changed very quickly. We can’t predict what’s happening. There are lots of multiple complex forces around it and there’s haziness of reality. We’ve had an injection on a global scale of what that world looks like. Our ability to adapt in that is going to mean whether we see a dark or bright future. For many people, their view of their future has been taken away because what they thought was predictable or consistent with what they would do, a slight tweak on what was in the past, now isn’t the same. Whilst we’ve seen tremendous traits of humanity to adapt when required, the future of work is going to be so different where we have to rescale. We know we’ve got a big global reskilling and upskilling challenge to do. How do we create the environments that don’t inhibit that, that accelerate and make that a journey that doesn’t produce pain along the way?

We were on this journey before COVID and that’s one thing that’s happened that’s brought it into the narrative that provides more stress and might even provide more team support. We can look at how we might pivot who and what our identity is. One of the key things that are going to be different is that we will enter multiple careers much more so than we have in the past. Maybe even more people having portfolio careers than perhaps having one career that they scale. There may be a level of authority or reward. Thinking about what is my second chapter, my third or fourth chapter, and the concepts of retirement will shift over time. The balance as a futurist, number one in my StrengthsFinder. Trying to imagine where the puck’s going to be. How can technology serve some of those challenges rather than the technology first and now where’s the problem? Anticipating the problems and then looking for what technology can intercept and solve them along the way. That’s how we look at our future.

As we look at the future, if we were taking away safety, we have this need to reskill and upskill. As we’re looking at this, everything is different. The word retirement may not be in the dictionary anymore for all, unfortunately. We’re seeing what it’s like if we did retire and how boring it would be, at least for me. It’s interesting the things that we thought were going to be popular, the gig economy or whatever, these things that are impacted now that nobody had foreseen. For me, I’ve taught enough foresight courses in my day. To think about all this being proactive and how we can do certain things, I hope that we’ll develop a lot of these skills, but adaptability is such a crucial skill. I know in my conversations in the past with Mike, we talked about how curiosity and some of these things play into what you guys have done and what I have done. A lot of it is we have to ask a lot of questions. I know you do a lot of that in your assessment, your AQai, which I took, was fun. I loved it and I’m looking at my score and I wasn’t as good as I thought. I want to go over this report and you created this assessment and it had all the validity, reliability and all the research behind it, but what is it measuring? We’re going to go over my scores and you’re going to tell me how I may improve.

Perhaps I’d like to start a couple of things about potential myths and misconceptions and baits around the whole area of assessments. A good friend of ours, Ben Hardy, has a book coming out called Personality Isn’t Permanent. It’s an interesting take on the potential dark side of personality assessments that might box someone into an area that’s thinking, “Those were the cards I was dealt, so therefore I can’t do X, Y, and Z.” Whilst we had a hunch about adaptability being more like how weight, i.e., we can move the needle to the left or right depending on what interventions we have and it’s improvable, we now have the research, studies, and evidence to show that it is improvable. That’s a key thing for everyone to understand about AQ is that you can improve it and improving it is not a self-pursuit or expansion.

We can then affect other’s adaptability by the environments that we create for that it might be that stress and pressure is a required element for adaption. It could also be a hindrance. The context is extremely important when we look at adaptability rather than blanket bits of highly adaptable, but in what context? In some context, we don’t want highly adaptable. In some, we do. This is important as you dig into understanding an attribute and where we have our model of ACE. It’s made of three components broadly is our Abilities. That’s how, and to what degree do I adapt? The C is Character. Who adapts and why? The Environment that Mike mentioned, and that’s when does someone adapt and to what degree? All of these different components, and then we have fifteen sub-dimensions that we’re assessing to come out with different indexes and predictions of how people might behave in future environments and look to improve those areas. I’m sure Mike can add some extra parts to that and I’d love to dive into some of the insights of your particular piece and perhaps the readers can benefit from diving deep into what some of those particular dimensions are.

There are many interesting components to what you’re talking about. Do you want to add more to that, Mike?

[bctt tweet=”Adaptability is not just about self-pursuit or expansion. We can also affect others’ adaptability by the environments that we create.” username=””]

Like Ross was saying, there isn’t an ideal AQ profile and it’s important that we’re profiled rather than scored in terms of that everyone is unique. We’ve all had these different upbringings. We’ve all worked different jobs. We’ve got these innate characteristics, as well as influences through our lives. It’s about where you can build some more AQ muscle. It might be whether you can improve your resilience, whether you can work on your mindset, whether it’s where there’s more physical, tangible elements that you can work on around the physical environment that you’re in. It’s interesting to go a bit deeper into self-understanding, self-exploration. There’s a lot to be explored there, but also the exploration of each other.

The more we can know about the team we’re around, the more harmonious it can be, the more enjoyable. We’re here to have fun and help humanity progress. The more we can understand each other and help each other, the better. We build in some elements of the AQ team. That allows you to look at teammates and form your own teams to look at your collective AQ and what you might do collectively to improve some areas that might be, perhaps similar to some coworkers that you can work on together.

I love how you talk about how it impacts others. That’s the same thing I found with the culture of curiosity. The more we can show that as leaders and embrace it, the more that our people who follow us can and can do the same. Like your assessment, when I work on different assessments, I prefer to have levels not put people into boxes so much because it’s like emotional intelligence. We know that these things are improvable. You’re touching on many different areas and I want to go into some of these areas to get an idea for people who are thinking they want to take this to find out what kinds of things that we’re talking about. There are three parts and within those three areas, there are other subfactors that you’re looking at. I want to talk about Ability first. That’s the A. I’m going to go through a little of my scores here and you can tell me a little bit more. Under Ability, you’ve got things like grit, mental flexibility, mindset, resilience, and ability to unlearn. Would you consider curiosity in that within mindset or ability to unlearn? Where would that fall? Would that fall under ability?

It’s interesting and I wonder how our assessment would show up if we’ve met earlier. This is another important part. What we’re not looking to do is create something and then go off and commercialize it and never change it. A lot of assessments were broadly validated in either the ‘50s, ‘60s or in the ‘80s, and they haven’t adapted, evolved their understanding, or learning from the core metric of the scales of those pieces. Whereas for us, a part of our business has been forming a research council. It can start to look at things like what’s the genome of for adaptability? What are interesting wild factors that might help us understand why people change? What causes it to navigate an exponential world basically? All of these components of inability, grit, unlearning of resilience. It’s to be able to go forward with confidence whatever tomorrow brings.

Therefore, you can both look to predict an outcome because a lot of these assessments and measures are looking historically and it’s singular. Now in a new environment, how will you better predict how that behavior and actions will come? For example, what my adaptability is or my personality is when I’m with my family might be different from when I’m with my pets and with my dog or when I’m in a workshop with the UN. Our context is important and match that with our goal. When you look at yours and you look at resilience, depending on your context and goal, it might not be important for you. If you’re not looking to expand and end things where if it didn’t work out to plan, then you might not need a high level of resilience if you’re not putting yourself in an environment where it’s unpredictable outcomes.

If there’s an unpredictable outcome, building resilience so that you can be able to deal with unexpected, “I think it’s going to work out this way. It didn’t, how do I make sure that affects me in a positive way?” We can think of that in sports. Think of it in tennis, for example. If you play a shot and it was an important shot, do you have the resilience to be able to bounce back the next point you’re playing, there’s only a positive outcome because of the one that didn’t go right? Does it throw you off your game? Does it mean, “I’m a machine and whatever went in the previous point makes no difference to my next point.” That resilience is interesting and it shows up now when we’re talking about in work that starts to think about innovations, new processes or doing experiments. It combines with loads of other things of having that core muscle, as Mike likes to talk about it of those things. It depends on what your goal and your contexts are and what particular roles you might have of where you might need these different abilities to show up for you in your journey.

As I’m looking at these different abilities, I did okay with most of them. I was over 80 except for one. That one was quite a bit lower. I’m thinking, “I need to know how to fix this.” The situation depends. My mental flexibility was quite a bit lower than the other ones. I’m curious, it’s saying that it’s average. If I have one goal in order to achieve another one draining, how can I improve in that area?

It’s interesting and I’ll do an eyeopener and then give a bit of space for Mike as well. In terms of mental flexibility, a lot of the research and thought about this is, can an individual hold two opposing concepts in the same mental space and time without ending up in a padded cell? Whilst we might be able to have a great debate and be able to be on debating different seats and sit on one side of a fence and debate it well. An idea being good or bad or a particular behavioral thought process of being good or bad. Being able to go and sit on the other one where the other is at and with equal enthusiasm, belief put a point across for the other.

TTL 700 | Adaptability Quotient
Adaptability Quotient: When you’re communicating a required change, knowing how people are motivated to change can help you rally the troops to get the outcome that you’re wanting.


What mental flexibility is looking at is, can you hold opposing contextual thoughts of either root of how to solve something or what should be solved or why in the same space and time? That will allow you to operate in an uncertain world. If you are in a world where everything is always the same and some roles and some jobs, even within the COVID world, remain the same. Their requirement for high degrees of mental flexibility might not be the biggest area for them to improve. Because an area is perceived low, it’s in that spectrum. I hope that might give a little bit of contextual understanding to mental flexibility.

Is it closed-mindedness, a lack of perception, either of those fall into that? Would those be good synonyms for that? You have a challenge seeing things from a different vantage point, so your perception is closed off.

Perception is an interesting one because we need to perceive something before we then act on it and take action. We need to perceive the car in front of me has stopped. Did I see it or not? Did I perceive it? Have I got something like experimentation, for example, saying, “What are the five different ways I could maybe avoid this? Do I move the steering wheel? Do I go on the brake pedal?” It might be coming through all of these things. In that context, you need to act. You might not need to experiment. You might not need lots of flexibility in all of those things because it’s something that what the result is. If, for example, the mental flexibility to perceive, “I’ve given good distance,” that’s different from mental flexibility, the perception to anticipate an event in the future. What we measure here is in a situation, maybe open-mindedness is probably closer to that one. That’s maybe a closer piece rather than perception.

I’m curious, Mike, what was your highest and lowest? Did you have one that was particularly high or low in that area under Ability?

I’m similar to you. My mental flexibility, it’s developing for me. I see it as do you see a threat or an opportunity in a situation? Do you see a problem or a challenge? When I think about the role you play in everyday life, either for your loved ones or at work, whatever it might be. Diane, for example, you’re a great host. It’s one of the many things that you do and is good at. That requires you to react quickly too. You can’t sit there and take something in for twenty seconds because it’s dead air. I was once told by my partner. I remember her saying, “Are you losing the ability to debate?” That’s about holding two different views and being able to understand both. For me, that was good learning. It taught me to try and be less rigid at times and understand something, whether it’s politics because she works in politics or loads of different facets of life. We’ve got a commonality there, Diane.

You could write a whole assessment just on mental flexibility. These things are all critical. My best was grit, apparently. I don’t let go no matter what. I want to continue with the character part because that’s also very fascinating. You’re talking about many things. You’re talking about emotional range, extroversion and preference, hope, motivational style and thinking style in that. You’re giving a range. I’ve seen the introvert-extrovert thing in many ways, but the collected versus anxious that could be more like neuroticism in the five and that type of thing. Hope was interesting. I was a lot more hopeful than I was expecting. It was 91%. I’m like, “I don’t know if I would’ve guessed that.” If there was a surprise, I guess that one, not so much. I’m more collected than I’m anxious. I’m more extroverted, which is probably obvious. My thinking style was the more big picture. I want to talk about that. What do you mean by thinking style?

That’s an emerging area. Something a bit similar to personality profiles where they might box somebody and say this is the personality that they have. To avoid, is the thinking style being this is your thinking style? As opposed to at the moment where you are, this is your tendency in how you’ve articulated yourself during the conversation of the assessment because it’s part of a conversational chatbot. A lot of the work and workshops in innovation is helping people to show up with different thinking styles. Thinking style, for example, could be, if we linked back to Mike’s comment of mental flexibility and use the, “Do you see a threat or do you see opportunity?” Mental flexibility would be equally seeing both being comfortable with and could work in both of those. Whereas we might have a thinking style and part of our character and our motivation style that would lead us in one direction or the other.

We might have a thinking style that is always looking for opportunity and a motivation that is always about playing to win as opposed to playing not to lose. It’s interesting where you can go down a deep hole looking at one individual dimension. These are all interrelated. Them showing up and how we’re then looking at the outputs and the algorithms of different ranges to start then to predict other bits. Your thinking style might make you more applicable for being re-skilled because you have a style in which is highly curious, for example. Is thinking style more around looking for solutions that have already been proven within there? Describe a little bit more where you were on the range of thinking style. Because at the moment, to keep it as simplified as possible between big picture and detail is a broad brush stroke before people dive in. Where were you on that one?

[bctt tweet=”Hope is a key part of adapting.” username=””]

It says I’m 66%, big picture, 34% detail.

Have you ever done the Kolbe assessment?

I have but I can’t remember. I’m an ESTJ in Myers-Briggs, but nobody likes that one. I can remember the ones I could remember.

What’s interesting in Kolbe, which looks at our innate approach to solving problems. For example, it’s across four dimensions of our fact find. How do we approach research, our follow-through, a quick start and then implementation of those things? They’re on a scale of 1 to 10. One is not necessarily bad and ten is not necessarily good. All it means is this is what you initiate in your happy place of how you would show up to a problem. It’s not a capability or skill.

For example, in this thinking style, you might innately be more led to be thinking big picture. Sixty-six percent of how you show up is thinking in that way. It’s not necessarily that your skill or capability can’t say, “I’ll look at the detail now if I need or have to.” This is about why you might adapt. Why you might adapt would be triggered by thinking about the big picture. It might be less triggered by being in detail. This is important when it comes to the communications of teams. When you’re communicating a required change, knowing how people are motivated to change and what their thinking is can help you position to rally the troops to get the outcome that you’re wanting.

This ties into the Tony Alessandra way of thinking is you have to treat people as they’d want to be treated rather than how you’d want to be treated. You have to tie-in to what other people’s needs are.

It’s not being blind, so you can have awareness. Rather than you constantly either end of the pendulum mollycoddling and always you being the one adapting because you’ve now got this insight to that person, it gives you a choice. Whereas before, you don’t have the choice. You’re going in blind. I understand that theory and research. For me, it’s more than if I have some data, I can then decide and choose how to use it or not. This is what’s important about phase one for us. Give the data and insights and then look at what are the interventions you want to make in any of that change or adaption.

What I mentioned on top of that is that there are a plethora of assessments over such a broad range of subjects. We look at how we can go a little bit deeper into the experience of delivering an assessment. Our assumptions to go out there and prove where we prove and correct that we can get validated in our responses that go a little bit deeper by using an AI conversational chatbot to open up some more conversation with somebody and allow for a two-way interaction to take place. For us, there’s an exciting future of collaborations through coaching, digital coaching, through other assessment providers where most of the new operating system for change is required in how we deal with change.

TTL 700 | Adaptability Quotient
Personality Isn’t Permanent: Break Free from Self-Limiting Beliefs and Rewrite Your Story

Coming back to the situation we’re in, in the world, every single person that anyone knows has had to adapt to a different life. Hopefully, it’s bringing to the forefront some ideas of self-reflection of, “How do I adapt so far in a situation? Am I happy with how I’ve adapted and how am I seeing other people respond to these situations?” This is never going to be a once and done thing for us. The ongoing research, it’s going to be interesting in partnering with organizations, bodies, and individuals to do that from different backgrounds, perspectives, regions, specialty is going to be one of the things that drive us.

You brought up some important aspects of adaptation, which we can chat about on the environmental aspect. As I was looking at it, I got a couple of 100% here. I was happy to see it. When I’m looking at the one I got a lower rating on, I’m remembering taking this assessment. Some of the questions we were asking, and I’m not sure if it was in this area, but it might’ve been about my leader or something to that effect. I don’t have one in my job. I’m not sure if it was this assessment or another one I took that asked in that respect. I remember answering for my last leader for some reason when I took that part and that came out in my emotional health as being low. Is that part about that or do I remember that incorrectly?

You’re spot on there. One of the other factors are letting you into a bit of the inner workings and maybe some of the secrets of it are that all of the parts that you had during our conversation, you as an individual might see some parts of it. Other parts are then aggregated and anonymized for the leaders and team reports to see. For example, some bits around team support or company support or emotional health are relevant to you as the individual. Some parts are relevant to the organization and structure to understand as a collective what’s going on of those things to understand when is the right time and to what degree are they adapting from these factors. Every product has to start somewhere and people then get excited about it and say, “Can I use it in this context?”

We have people who’ve taken the assessment that doesn’t work with others. They’re more solo entrepreneurs and there’s a whole section of the current structure that then isn’t super relevant. I remember I did a visit to LA and there was a university Division I football team or soccer team. We put all of them through the assessment because they were interested in how do they adapt as a team to learn new things, to deal with things not going right, all sorts of stuff together with going out into the big, wide world after Division I soccer. How prepared are they? A lot of the context of our first assessment is focused on the future of work, organizations and people that work within teams.

There were still bits at the edge that we will then look at, how do we redefine this for this use case for people that maybe don’t have leaders and they’re on their own? One of the areas we’re looking for is instead of an AQ me, it’s an AQ career for those that have perhaps found themselves out of work. It might be furloughed or redundant because the organization as a whole couldn’t adapt. How do they get back into work and what’s the levels of hope and the balance then of asking questions around your team and your team support your leaders is not going to bear any relevance if you’re out of work? There are going to be lots of sub-components as we expand our product suite for different use cases. For you, I’m glad that you were creative and adaptable in your thinking to think it was, “Who was my leader before?” and use that to show up and that it might influence your certain scores and the reality of how things are for you.

All of this is similar to having an assessment, going to organizations, showing them the validity, showing them how much this will help them is similar to what I do with my curiosity assessment. What I’m interested in is I know it takes a long time to get into the research to show that your adaptability can be a factor that improves engagement or innovation. Are you getting a lot of people asking you for that data and how are you providing that?

I wanted to touch on something from the previous question before I do. A big driver for us is it’s about mental health. The work stress elements of the environment section is important. It gives leaders, it gives organizations the intelligence to take action on reducing some of this workload and this stress. It was $15 trillion, $16 trillion costs over the next ten or so years to the global economy. We started the organization to ensure no one gets left behind. A huge amount of stress on somebody creates all kinds of issues or worse death of a person, death of a company, and death of an organization. Working together with a whole broad range of suppliers of instruments that can assist in reducing that stress is a huge driver for us. We’re keen to partner and talk to others who have that similar ambition.

Jumping forward to the question. The validity is important to us. We have our challenge to ourselves, which every year we’ll set our own milestone goals around super credibility. What does that mean in terms of the instrument and the assessment? We are being assessed by bodies. For example, I was talking to the European Association of Assessments about going through that. We’ve applied for an ethics study, something that not a lot of assessments do. We’re doing that in partnership with the business school. We can assess ourselves and we’ve got good validity scores, which we can publish and share. When you’re being assessed externally by others, as long as they’ve got the context and framework, that’s what will elevate us. We are asked this question a lot and we have information that we share and send, and we’re slowly building up a library of those assets within the platform itself. It’s there for everyone to see.

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That’s a big challenge. I know I had to deal with that as well. You can do all the factor analysis and the same thing with the Curiosity Code. We came up 0.8% or better in all these different areas and you look for that stuff. I published in peer review journals, but some of this stuff takes time. We have to get a lot of these organizations to recognize the value of it in general. There are some common-sense applications, at least I’ve seen with curiosity. If you’re more curious, you’re asking more questions, you might more likely be aligning yourself into things that interest you. Some of the stuff seems important.

I know you mentioned mental health and how you are focused on that. I did a show with Heiko Schmidt, which was good. You might be interested in it. He created an app for mental health professionals where they connect everybody together for All4Life. As I talked to all these different people, all these things combined. Everything builds on the other end. As we build all these personality preferences or at least acknowledge our personality preferences and build our quotients so that we’re more capable, we’re going to have better workplaces. I want to thank both Ross and Mike for joining me. I was hoping you could share a link or someplace that they can go to find out more about your work.

It’s been a real pleasure, Diane. The site to go to is and you’ll be able to find out more information and pieces there. I wanted to add in this context of what proof do people need to go and do something. We’re pioneering a new area here. The types of organizations are the ones that are equally looking to pioneer. Whilst when you’re doing that, yes, you can do the science validity, you can do the factor analysis. You can do all of those types of things, but we don’t have are assess this, get this insight, do this intervention and this is the result. An outcome might be an innovative product that is faster and quicker.

You are going through a merger and acquisition and you remove some friction so that it’s more successful let alone faster. The business outcomes, what we’re looking at is that first speech landing is with companies and organizations that are already valuing adaptability. It’s part of their endeavor and program and they want to get deeper with it. They know they’re equally in it with us and it’s a co-elevation project that they are pursuing and experiment alongside with us to help give us extra information on those case studies and outcomes that will then help everyone in the entire industry. It needs pioneers. It needs bravery to forge the ground for others to be able to benefit from it. That’s another very realization of many startups who are pursuing and pioneering new areas of endeavor.

I know I’m doing as a test pilot with a top company, the pharmaceutical group Novartis. It has one of their employees who’s writing your doctoral dissertation using my assessment. A lot of people who are writing their doctoral dissertations could get a lot of great information from something like your AQai. I hope some of them are reading. Thank you for being here, guys. This was interesting. I enjoyed it.

Thank you, Diane. It has been great. If anyone wants to reach out to either Ross or me, it’s and the same for me,

I’d like to thank Ross and Mike for being my guests. I found this fascinating, taking their assessment. I love taking assessments. If you’re interested in taking the Curiosity Code Assessment, you can go to I hope you join us next time.

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About Ross Thornley and Mike Raven

TTL 700 | Adaptability QuotientTTL 700 | Adaptability QuotientRoss Thornley and Mike Raven are Co-Founders at AQai. AQai offers adaptability assessments and coaching. Their work focuses on discovering an adaptability quotient (AQ) which is a metric of adaptability.


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