Context is everything. Recently I delivered a workshop on strategic decision making for our senior leaders. I started the session by talking about VUCA. For the uninitiated, it’s an acronym used to describe the nature of change:
It’s origins come from the military where it’s used to describe the different environments they encounter and the types of strategies needed for them. It’s easy enough to see that this same acronym has resonance for the organisational world we live in.
It helps give people another way to consider the range of challenges they face, understand them in a different way and potentially work through solutions. Indeed the people I was with came up with many examples of how they experience VUCA. We’re all subject to factors outside our control, and there is a propensity to want to control those factors as much as is possible.
The things we’re learning in this space are around collaboration, creativity and simplicity. VUCA helps provide a language that people can make the target of their challenges. It might even act as the beginnings of a framework in better analysing these challenges and the nature of them. By it’s very definition it demands intelligence and sophistication in dealing with those challenges.
In this piece from Simon Heath, he argues for the need for simplicity and I wonder, is the answer not ever such? Answers arise and are often the obvious way forward. Sometimes they feel too easy, especially in the work context and it doesn’t feel like it should be that easy. So we write papers, prepare presentations, create fandangled communication campaigns all with the aim in mind of showing how intelligent an answer something is. And yet if something can happen easily, without need for sophistication and it being simple, does it have less worth as a solution?
My call is this. I find using VUCA a useful way to help people understand and potentially navigate the challenges they face. I’ve used it in a number of contexts where it is supportive of the content. The solutions we develop and the answers we seek don’t need to be in the same vain. They might be, and that may be the way forward, but let’s not do that because it’s a default. Let’s do that because it’s the right solution.