The term VUCA was originally used in wartime military situations when US forces found themselves encountering an unknown enemy. Similar situations happen in business, causing corporations to deal with unknown problems that were not anticipated. The consequences can sometimes be described as slowing down of productivity, missed deadlines or longer production schedules, delay in deliverables and costing the company money. Each organization’s story is unique, but following these steps to problem solving can fulfill current and urgent needs; while most importantly addressing the root causes of problems. Start by altering your current perspective and ask the right questions. The answers to the following questions may be used to create a problem statement that will elicit novel ideas. The four-step process consists of :
1) Complexity: What are the characteristics of the situation in terms of complexity and interconnected parts/variables?
2) Volatility: Which parts are unstable? Is knowledge about it often available? Is the duration known or unknown?
3) Ambiguity: Are there any substantial precedents?
4) Uncertainty: Can you identify the basic cause and effect? Complex issues lasting over an extended period, may require a more rigorous approach.
In the book, The Forward-Looking Manager in a VUCA World, the author, Col. Vikram Sakshi, suggests leaders focus on the value and power of simplicity and adopt lean methodologies. This practice will result in a timely evolution from silos to a more holistic organization, reducing complexity. One solution for reducing complexity would be to focus on the basics or “keeping the lights on.” The foundation of this solution is very basic. Since employees may feel overwhelmed with VUCA conditions for example: lots of change, lack of clarity and an unclear present, it helps to have a plan that is simple and focuses on things we can control. “What separates great leaders from the rest of us is that they practice the fundamentals first.” (Sakshi, 2017) Col. Sakshi goes on to say, “Punctuality, teamwork and work ethic are some of the simple principles they follow.” The important take way being, effective leaders simplify the complex issues down to key messages. In the fast-pace ever-changing world, more and more business leaders are joining the movement and realizing the benefits of proven strategies such as the VUCA frame work.
The movement begins with evidence-based decisions, applying critical thinking, understanding VUCA situations combined with thoughtful planning. Leaders who are committed to identifying, dissemination and most importantly applying research that is soundly conducted and based on relevant evidence will lead their organizations to success. The movement begins with leadership’s willingness to pave the way to a positive system-wide shift.