When I speak to leaders about their challenges today, it’s no surprise that the environment itself is at the core of our conversations.
Global market forces, local competition, digital transformation, changing demographics and big data are profoundly changing how businesses operate. We all know the old VUCA model of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity and I believe it becomes more relevant as we face the increasingly tempo of change in this environment.
The basic VUCA framework has been an invaluable tool for analysing the environment and taking proactive steps to reduce the ‘fear factor’ and address the potential paralysis caused by the VUCA world.
In fact, VUCA has its origins in the US Army, where the model was used to drive engagement from leaders who found themselves in the midst of unimaginable chaos—it’s designed to address inaction.
While we in the business world aren’t heading into combat any time soon, the damage of being slow to act, analysis paralysis or complete inaction can still cause untold damage. We need the tools like VUCA to walk bravely into the world we face right now, to bravely manage change.
But the negativity of the VUCA conversation can be exhausting, draining and frankly, something that I find I want to flip the switch on—to find a more positive, brave mindset to operate from.
It’s time to prime a different conversation
So, I’m always excited when I get to introduce leaders who are familiar with the VUCA model to its evolution, VUCA Prime.
VUCA Prime addresses the needs of leaders to operate in this environment, by focusing on deep changes to mindset, increased change capacity and new structures, models and methodologies.
Aligned with a more iterative, responsive approach, and focused on integrative thinking, VUCA Prime provides leaders with a modern framework for diagnosing the challenges they face and effectively preparing to navigate change successfully—bravely.
Vision over Volatility
By addressing Volatility with Vision, VUCA Prime directs leaders towards a more flexible strategic intent, a shared vision understood across the business that acts as a compass point rather than a rigid goal.
No matter what kind of change you are delivering, that compass point is the connection to meaning for every team member, every leader. A guide to where you are going, where the change will lead you—with the flexibility to adjust the strategy as you work towards that compass point.
Understanding over uncertainty
Meet uncertainty with understanding, through active listening, and team engagement. VUCA Prime provides the antidote to uncertainty by opening leaders’ minds to multiple perspectives, through active listening to create shared understanding, allowing teams to take brave steps together.
When the next steps of your change are uncertain, draw from the strength of the team to create the path forward. By exploring the strengths available in your current situation, you gain knowledge and build trust in the capability available to move forward into the unknown. To lead bravely and have others follow.
Clarity over complexity
A complex world requires clarity, and sensemaking is key to tempering the unsettling impact of complexity. In the immortal words of Karl Weick, the father of sensemaking, “when you’re tired, cold, hungry, and scared, any old map will do” and sense making is just this – building the best map you can to provide clarity to your complex world.
Any leader would always choose to provide the best map possible to their teams, thus the fear and reluctance to work towards an ‘any map will do’ approach, however the best guidance, based on the world as it exists now, will drive action, and may also lead teams to places that greater detail could discourage. To go boldly forward with the clarity at hand, using the vision and understanding already gained, flips the script on complexity in overdrive.
Agility over Ambiguity
Reduced ambiguity through agility is made possible through effective action, implemented by brave leaders throughout every level of the organisation. VUCA prime recognises that in a world that is moving at a rapid pace, the antidote to ambiguity is the ability to response rapidly and to learn from that response. Agility call for all levels of the organisation to prototype rapidly, and respond and learn effectively, producing more effective and responsive outcomes to meet the ambiguous environment.
To deliver this, encouraging leaders to anticipate immediate risks and act quickly, through networks across the business rather than through traditional hierarchical models, is essential. As is building the resilience of leaders and team members to bravely continue to fail fast and learn.
So rather than seeing the difficulties of the VUCA environment, what opportunities can VUCA prime present when we use it to reframe the conversation?
With Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility wouldn’t it be a little easier to be brave in the face of a world filled with change?
How can you flip the script from the negative and take action with your teams to create #bravechange?
With 15+ years driving business vision, strategy and engagement, I help organisations deliver more successful transformational change to meet 21st century challenges.
I have a reputation for finding dynamic, innovative solutions coupled with a systematic problem-solving approach to everything from strategy, to change management, internal communication, value marketing, people leadership and project management.
I’m motivated by transforming and improving businesses and systems through exceptional change management that delivers certainty, reduces mission-critical risk and treats employees right.