How to be a nimble thinker

Being agile is a vital skills in our VUCA environment, Liggy Webb explains more.

In an evolving and hectic world where the pace of life is faster than it has ever been before, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to think on our feet and react and adapt quickly, positively and effectively.

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Agility is not just about your ability to change. It is about your dynamic capability and how to respond in a timely, innovative and sustainable way when you need to.

So how can you develop your personal agility and become a more nimble thinker?

The word AGILE lays out a very useful acronym for agility and these are the key components:

A is about being adaptable, so that you can positively embrace change

G is about being genuine, so that you have greater confidence

I is about being innovative, so that you can improvise and solve problems

L is about being light and letting go of limitations and baggage

E is about being enduring so that you are resilient, strong and sustainable


Sometimes it may feel that as soon as you adapt to one set of circumstances it’s all change again! That, however, is evolution and there is no progress without change.

One of the biggest obstacles to opportunity can be your attitude.

If you find yourself resistant to change then the chances are that you will be setting yourself up for a tough time. Very often in life you may experience change that you don’t like or even understand and it may well be that there is nothing you can do to stop it.

On occasions you may dig your heels in, however there comes a point where the wave of change is a lot stronger than you are capable of conquering. In this situation real intelligence teaches you that while you may not be ale to change the situation you can choose your response.


Something important to establish here is that you were not born to be perfect, you were born to be real.

In a world that is dominated by social media, sometimes it can be a struggle to determine the real self from the selectively designed image of the ideal self.

Although you will want to project yourself in the best possible light it is important that you never lose sight of who you really are. We are all people in progress and there will always be aspects of you that can be worked on and improved.

Having a high level of self-awareness can improve self-esteem and confidence. Self-confidence will help you to trust your own reactions which is a big part of being agile and making decisions

Having a good understanding of your strengths and limitations, your hopes and vulnerabilities are important. Getting things wrong is part of the human condition. This can be challenging at times because education doesn’t always equip us on how to deal with mistakes because so much focus is about getting it right and success.

Learning from your mistakes can be some of the most important stepping-stones in shaping your dynamic capability; so don’t be afraid to trip up from time to time.

Being genuine will also help you to be connect with others and be less judgmental and accepting.


The ability to be able to innovate is critical to agility. In a world where there is less security and more uncertainty and ambiguity it is important to explore ways of doings things differently.

Tried and tested methods of what may have been appropriate yesterday may not be relevant and appropriate for the working conditions of today and tomorrow.

There is of course a certain risk attached to innovation, which very often can create limitation because it is easier to stay within a secure comfort zone. The issue with this is that doing what we perceive is within our comfort zone right now may be the biggest risk for future success.

Also remember that creativity is about thinking up new ideas; innovation is about the actual implementing of those ideas.


There is a lot to be said for keeping things simple and light. Letting go of unnecessary baggage will allow you to be a far more nimble thinker.

Agility requires you to think and react quickly so that your response is relevant to the current circumstances. It isn’t however about running about like a headless chicken and multi tasking at break neck speed it is about being sharper and more focused. If our minds are overwhelmed and cluttered it is impossible to navigate some of the complexity that is rife.

Ninety percent of what we do, we do on autopilot. This means we have collected a huge amount of behavioural habits through our lifetimes and much of what we do we do without really thinking about it. It is important to take time to examine those habits and to decide how helpful they are. It may well be that some of those habits are restrictive and indeed unnecessary baggage that can slow you down.

To be a nimble thinker one the most important things is to be able to distill complexity and make things simpler. As Albert Einstein put it so well, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old you, you don’t understand it well enough yourself”.


Agility is very much about endurance and the need to be strong and sustainable.

With some of the pressures that modern life can put you under there is a greater need than ever to develop a core strength and resilience so that you can bounce back ready for the next challenge.

Certainly when relentless change, uncertainty, complexity and pressure are thrust upon us continuously, it is essential to develop the necessary toolkit to be able to survive and thrive through turbulent times.

Do remember though that tough times don’t last, but tough people do and your ability to endure these is crucial. Being enduring is about having the strength to see something through despite some of the set backs along the way.

In summary

Your dynamic capability and agile behaviour will certainly help you to navigate life’s many challenges and equip you to be more nimble in your thoughts and actions.

Liggy Webb is an author, presenter and managing director at The Learning Architect. You can follow Liggy @liggyw, email or visit



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