The VUCA Reality – It’s Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous

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FountainBlue’s March 11 Front Line Managers Online program was on the topic of ‘The VUCA Reality – It’s Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous’. Please join me in thanking our panelists Roxanne Dos Santos, Nancy Moreno and Sam Gupta. Below are notes from the conversation.

Manage for Success in Times of Great Change

  • Collaborate with others to deliver on product and service milestones, based on a wide range of customer-defined requirements. 
  • Embrace the discomfort in ambiguity, and do scenario planning to mitigate and manage risks.
  • Fail fast, fail forward, and be agile about shifting to another direction, plan, or strategy.
  • Accept that there will be pitfalls, and that you will likely need additional resources, different designs, more financing, etc., as things shift.
  • Quantify the ambiguous so that you can better plan for unknowns. 
  • Define the ‘good-enough’ criteria so that everyone doesn’t overthink and overanalyze when it’s difficult to know for sure what will happen.

Empower and Engage Others to Participate

  • Create a culture of psychological safety so that people feel confident about speaking up and sharing ideas and expertise. 
  • Integrate ideas and suggestions and reward those who do speak up.
  • Seek the input of a large range of people to address problem solving, decision-making and innovation challenges.
  • Welcome the input of people not-like-you, as together the team is better.

What to Expect in the Next Normal

  • There will be more collaboration to manage more complex projects.
  • There will be more modular designs, smaller building blocks for complex solutions so that the inevitable changes can be more efficiently addressed.
  • There will be shorter delivery cycles for more complex solutions.
  • Relationships with customers will be a key to success, and creating an exceptional customer experience will help build and maintain those relationships. 

The bottom line is that nobody will ever be able to predict the future, but being able to ‘roll with it’ and agilely respond to this future and proactively plan for a future will increase your likelihood of success.


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