There is no doubt we are living in an environment that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. I haven?t found anything or anyone to convince me that this situation is going to change anytime soon. How can we cope with this environment?
There is no simple formula for thriving in this VUCA world. The times of finding a unique model and market position and sticking with it for long periods of success is gone. It seems that no matter how solid an organization feels their model and market position is they are at the constant risk of being disrupted by something that didn?t appear possible yesterday.
According to McKinsey & Company companies are changing the way they view change and moving to something that McKinsey calls Strategic Fluidity which is a flow of talent, investment, ideas and approaches under constant reassessment extending across entire organizations. They have found that the companies most adept at change, innovation and transformation all prioritize some mix of effective communication, active leadership and continuous improvement.
In some regards these three factors of effective communication, active leadership and continuous improvement have always been critical although the conversation around the behaviors may sound slightly different.
On the effective communication side, it is still critical that everyone is singing from the same song book and the same sheet of music about what they are trying to achieve together. It is also clear that it is still much easier to get things done when the people trying to get things done have also participated in defining what needs to get done and what the priorities are.
Active leadership has always been about engaged leadership. The days are long gone when leaders try to respond to challenges by grabbing the reins and tightening them reducing flexibility throughout the organization. Loosening the reins and engaging the team is a requirement in today’s workplaces. Although organizations have grown larger over time it is even more important today to bridge the gap between the top and the rest of the organization. Bridging this gap can only be done with active engaged, transparent flexible leadership. Anything locked in stone is likely to crumble in this VUCA environment.
Continuous improvement has always been the mantra of high performing organizations and people. Everything must be open to potential change. McKinsey?s most recent report finds that the presence of this mindset of constantly looking for better ways of working doubles the chances of an organization ability to sustain improvement after making a shift. Maintaining a flexible mindset and embracing change as providing exciting possibilities is one way to deal with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.