By Karen Delk, M.Ed . Psych., PCC

  • Do business goals shift constantly?
  • Do you find your organization and the people you lead have to be nimbler to respond to the change in priorities?
  • Do short-term business plan seem more volatile, uncertain, challenging and ambiguous?
  • How are you adjusting to fast-paced changes in technical evolution and digital revolution?

In the last twenty years, it seems the pace of change and the demand for innovation has accelerated.  More is expected in of you and the people you lead.  The expectation is that leaders are comfortable, knowledgeable and serve as the guiding light in the face of volatility, uncertainty, challenge, and ambiguity, (VUCA). As the pace of change accelerates, leaders are urged to be transparent in bringing ideas big and small to be explored.  However, feeling comfortable with or in a VUCA environment is not easy.  As we know most people do not like change or uncertainty.  Feeling comfortable in taking a path in ambiguity is not for everyone.  In fact, many people become very uncomfortable and paralyzed when there is no clear direction.  Most people seek to develop routines, knowing what is expected of them on a regular basis.  This desire is even among leaders at the highest level of the organization whose job it is to review and make decisions on ideas and concepts.

The pace of change is unlikely to slow down, and global competition will continue to keep the marketplace volatile and challenging, what is the prescription for leaders to better manage in a VUCA environment? Individually, we can become more comfortable by seeing that there is more than one way to view ambiguity.  Instead of feeling rudderless, one can learn to embrace it as a new blank slate to create the situation that you find most ideal.

It begins with knowing more about yourself and the types of roles or situations where you thrive.  Second, understanding the paradox of change is to experience it and accept the volatility with understanding and focus on future possibilities. Third, is to reframe and visualize what you can control to create the new normal or desired state.  Focus on specific goals and behaviors to achieve solutions.  Understand the complexity of stakeholders and focus on the relationship and break down silos, if they exist. Learn to be a good team player and seek opportunities to self-author being a problem solver and a problem seeker.  Identify ways to innovate and adapt to the change by reading, experimenting and making intentional choices about who you want to be and how you want to show up during this period of VUCA.

In periods of chaos (VUCA) there is tremendous opportunity to add value and be transformational by embracing and leveraging the strengths of others.

Finally, redefine VUCA in the following ways:

Volatility to Vision, from Uncertainty to Understanding, from Complexity to Clarity and from Ambiguity to Agility.

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For more with Karen on how to approach the VUCA environment, contact her for a consultation.