VUCA is an acronym coined at the US Army College in the 1990’s to sum up what the world would be like after the Soviet Union’s collapse: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.
However, I think you will all agree that VUCA has never been more relevant for both the military and business than it is right now.
From a business perspective, current societal, cultural, political, economic, and technological upheaval is making it increasingly difficult to lead and grow a company. The harder it is to comprehend both what is actually happening and likely to happen, the harder it is to articulate a clear vision, objectives, strategies, and tactics.
So, what can you do to survive and thrive in a more VUCA world? Here are a few recommendations that we think will help:
You are only human, with a finite amount of intellectual and emotional energy. How much of your day is spent “firefighting,” or on things that will not have an impact on either the short-term or long-term health and success of your business?
In an increasingly VUCA environment, make sure you are focusing most of your time and energy on things that will “drive the needle,” and minimize time spent on things that you cannot influence or control. Also remember that “good enough” is better than nothing!
One critical priority all business leaders have is to develop and maintain a clearly articulated vision to drive your team’s actions. This must be communicated consistently and often across all levels and functions in your organization.
The clearer that you can be about what you hope to accomplish, the easier it will be for your team to take initiative and execute in the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of today’s business environment.
Remember the adage of K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid!) and the 80/20 rule.
Simplification minimizes the chances of making big mistakes. Focusing on refinement and execution of the basics and fundamentals that form the majority of the day-to-day operations will keep your business humming. This also creates more time and space for you to tackle VUCA issues.
Use experience, from both success and failure, to learn and improve. Make sure your hard-won lessons are well understood not just by you, but by your team.
Also mentor your direct reports in “pattern recognition” so that they are better able to spot opportunities to apply this knowledge and know-how. Be open if they come to you with ideas about learning from the past.
There is a saying: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
In an increasingly VUCA world, “failing fast” and achieving even small but incremental improvements on a continual basis needs to be celebrated and encouraged. It is up to you to do everything you can to build a productive culture and a positive mindset within your team and organization.
At Core Catalysts we frequently help our clients navigate volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. We have multiple success stories we can share, including where we have worked with clients to:
If you think we might be able to help you too, or would like more information, please get in touch!
– Mark Jacobs, Client Service & Delivery