Countering the Effects of VUCA in Your Organization

A few weeks ago, I introduced the acronym VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) and explained why this concept is highly relevant in today’s business environment. Today, I’ll explain how you can counter the inherent instability of the world we live in.

Bob Johansen of the Institute for the Future has developed a model called VUCA Prime that can help you take steps to counter the instability caused by VUCA. For each VUCA element, there is a corresponding stabilizing force that you can counter it with.

Counter volatility with vision. If you’re not leading with clear purpose and direction, volatility will have an even more devastating impact on your organization. Remember core organizational values and both short and long term goals, and keep watchful of factors that you know have the potential to derail them. Don’t focus on Plan A alone—spend time considering Plan B, C, D, and so on.

Counter uncertainty with understanding. Understanding requires you to slow down, make observations, and perform analysis. Understanding also requires a lifelong commitment to learning and professional development. Whenever you’re given the opportunity, learn something new. You never know what might be useful down the road.

Counter complexity with clarity. Focus on what you do know and become better acquainted with what you don’t know. When dealing with the chaos of a VUCA world, it’s crucial to identify the things you can control and the things you cannot. Learn to be ok with not being in control of everything. Instead, do an honest assessment of the strengths and limitations of your organization.

Counter ambiguity with agility. Push your own limits and step outside of your comfort zone whenever possible. Learn to be comfortable with change and seek out feedback from both peers and employees about what you could be doing better. Stay flexible and open-minded. Make sure that your organization is staffed with the right people in the right positions, and that your employees are given access to the resources they need to stay competitive.

No one can be fully prepared for every contingency, but talking to a coach is a great first step towards implementing the VUCA Prime model. An executive coach will help you gain the objectivity you need to put you on a path to greater adaptive capacity.

Let’s have a conversation about how VUCA impacts your organization and what you can do to limit its effects.  I can be reached via my website, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter. Hope to hear from you soon!

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