We live in VUCA times

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there – Rumi

This is an unusual time of constant political uncertainty with Brexit, a VUCA time, which means a period of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. VUCA means that nothing is predictable, and past experience tells you nothing about what is to come. VUCA stands for:

  • Volatility: a high rate of change, in which the nature, speed and volume of change does not take a predictable pattern
  • Uncertainty: a lack of clarity around the present and the future creates unpredictability. Past events are no longer predictors of the future, making forecasting and decision making difficult
  • Complexity: multiple factors work together, with many layers impacting each other, numerous causes and possibilities leads to overwhelming confusion
  • Ambiguity: there is a confusion of reality, there is a lack of clarity around the meaning of events and so there is confusion over what steps to take

So how do we best handle a VUCA situation, or as in our current times in the UK, a VUCA lifestyle, political situation, and economy?

When faced with a VUCA situation we are challenged to stay flexible, be curious and get out of our comfort zone. Being curious means stopping, looking and listening, asking, probing and challenging through open-ended questions. When things are complex, we need to find new ways to seek clarity and to make sense of chaos. We can talk to others and collaborate to seek different perspectives (rather than competing to be right). In a world of growing social media, we are able to do this more widely and more quickly than ever before.

Ambiguity is overcome with flexibility, agility and being open to constant change with resilience. Based on the responses to our questions, we can learn to become more flexible and agile, and consider alternatives, possibilities that we may not have considered in the past. An antidote to the volatility of VUCA is a clear, new and different vision. With the current turmoil at the top of British, and global, politics, there is no leadership, and so there is no clear vision. Uncomfortable as it might seem, maybe we have to be patient and wait. In that time, we can remain curious, seek to understand and to be understood, and remain open, resilient, creative and flexible. There’s many things we can’t do, but what we can do is to set our own vision for the future, and through dialogue and collaboration, the future usually becomes clearer over time.

Recently, I read a book called Messy, by Tim Harford, on how to be creative, messy and resilient in a tidy minded world, focussing on how messy situations, teams, lives and mindsets can often help to give rise to enhanced creativity and collaboration in the workplace and across our lives, and how to build up resilience to navigate our work and our lives with increased flexibility and ease…

Executive coaching plays a key role in the state of play we are living in, as more and more leaders in the corporate workplace are required, and learning, to adapt consistently to a faster, consistent pace of change, think creatively and innovatively, and respond appropriately on their feet to often what seems a constantly moving target, developing their ability to respond better to random circumstances in a smarter way.

A global Pharma company I’m coaching in is just one of many examples where a lightness and ease to responding quickly and innovatively on our feet, with constantly reducing resources and increased work load, is becoming required day to day practice for leaders.

Another global corporate I’m coaching in at senior leadership level finds that a lighter way of working, staying agile, a sense of humour, delegating downwards a lot more, outsourcing to external providers, and regular leadership meetings to troubleshoot any business issues works well in responding to the current moment too.

Contact Joanna at Distinctions Executive Coaching www.distinctionscoaching.com  for further detail.