06/16/2017

How ready are you for VUCA?

Everything going on around us is becoming increasingly difficult to predict these days. Share prices, for example, can seesaw dramatically within a very short space of time – and have indeed lacked stability for some years now. The surprise element truly seems to have become almost a regular feature of daily life.

At the same time, products and services are experiencing ever-growing complexity: Information and situations can now be interpreted in so many different ways that communication is often complicated rather than simplified. For one thing, this proves all too clearly that the challenges imposed by today’s VUCA at top management level are bigger than ever. So, are you ready for that?

Tough just got tougher
Demands placed on people in managerial positions have reached an entirely new dimension. It is becoming increasingly difficult to measure everything and prepare professionally for future decisions. VUCA is a term that nobody can afford to ignore anymore. But what exactly does it stand for?

V = Volatility: Unexpected occurrences arise more and more frequently and for unknown duration periods. Change has become a permanent state.

U = Uncertainty: What was once known as a crash barrier metaphorically speaking, is now little more than a loosely tied string that has long since ceased to provide security.

C= Complexity: Circumstances are joined together like a tightly woven net, whose complexity no longer leaves room for clarity.

A = Ambiguity: Spoken and written language has long since lost its ability to convey statements clearly. This ambiguity makes communication considerably more difficult.

Leadership accesses a new dimension
How you confront VUCA in your position is, of course, absolutely crucial. Because it is all about acceptance! You will encounter predictability, consistency and manageability less and less. So, the best thing you can do is say goodbye to linear thinking and worn-out recipes for success – And instead welcome flexibility, agility and openness.

Welcome VUCA!
If you take the following four points on board, you will whole-heartedly be embracing VUCA. Why not turn VUCA challenges into VUCA expertise?

  • Volatility becomes vision
  • Uncertainty becomes understanding
  • Complexity becomes clarity
  • Ambiguity becomes agility

How chaos takes on meaning
Volatility becomes vision: You will become VUCA experts, when you can give chaos its true meaning – before others do. The best business strategies not only require a clearly defined action plan, but above all real holistic thinking, which has the power to unite visions.

Open your mind
Uncertainty becomes understanding: You will become VUCA experts by observing everything from an alternative perspective. Curiosity motivates: it feeds both search and exploration for new knowledge. If you manage to open your mind to every possible opportunity, you will be a massive step ahead of the rest.

Break the silence
Complexity becomes clarity: You will be top-notch VUCA experts, when you manage to both see through and “talk through” a situation. And not only when you are dealing with a favourite situations! When you are able to stand out from the crowd, let healthy common sense prevail and discern the truth, whilst others remain silent, you will have the best possible prerequisites for this area of expertise.

The bigger picture
Ambiguity becomes agility: You will be true VUCA experts, when you manage to face situations with balance, while maintaining perspective. Once decisions have been made, they should be promptly implemented. But ask yourself this: Do you always have a view of the bigger picture and its consequences? Of course, if you do happen to make the wrong decision, you need to take responsibility for it – whatever happens.

You are bound to encounter resistance between hierarchical levels from time to time along the way – not to mention your own personal resistance.

In my forthcoming blog entries, I will be dealing with each of these four VUCA areas individually, to show you just how to prepare yourself for the VUCA world.

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