Friday, December 9, 2011

Reduce The VUCAs in 2012

As 2011 draws to a close, individuals and organizations begin to plan for the New Year. 2011 has not been too kind to hopes, dreams and plans. VUCAs have been fiercely at work!

Back in the 1990’s, the military added the acronym, VUCA to its vocabulary. VUCA stands for:

- Volatility - change is coming at a faster pace and dealing with transition can be messy

- Uncertainty - our ability to predict the future is becoming less meaningful and trustworthy

- Complexity - is increasing including knowledge, communication channels and distraction leading to increased confusion

- Ambiguity - made up of assumptions, poor communications, fuzzy rules, false readings leading to fog

VUCA is code for acknowledging the root cause of stress, frustration, indecisiveness, bad behavior, poor performance, weak execution, short outcomes, and incomplete strategic plans.

As VUCA’s come upon us, the cry becomes, “I/we don’t have enough ___________!” Blame-storming ensues. Short cuts are taken. Ethics are ignored. Greed increases.

What do you do to minimize, reduce or eliminate VUCAs?

Make time. The time issue always becomes apparent when working with a group during an experiential initiative. The initiative that includes a time allotment, creates stress, generates anxiety and becomes an enemy to positive outcomes. Make time an ally! Use your resources more effectively by breaking groups into smaller groups to flush out fresh, unique ideas. Do not be quick to throw water on an idea that goes against your thinking or the current process. Instead of a “Yes, but...” try a “Yes, and...”

The Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared, it offers a clue to dealing with VUCA.

I notice most organizations or teams (as well as individuals) who go through a strategic planning process seldom discuss the “what ifs’...” as in:

  • What if a key member(s) of the team leaves or dies?
  • What if a natural disaster hits like hurricane, tornado or wildfire?
  • What if served with a lawsuit?
  • What if the economy tanks?
  • What if ___________________?

Simplify. Simplify stuff. Simply processes. Simplify lifestyles.

Lean into flexibility. The tree that bends in the wind will survive over the tree that is stiff and rigid.

I am reminded of Robert Fulghum’s epic piece, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Fulghum’s writing is a lesson in leadership and holds truths and wisdom to deal with VUCA’s. See

When you go out into the world, will you watch for traffic, hold hands and stick together?

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