It's a VUCA world - CIPS CIO March 5 2009


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Slide 1

Most organizational cultures today, and most leaders, want to get there just in time, not get there early. Many are willing to settle for getting there “fashionably” late. They focus on quick-fix problems, and they love people who solve those problems rapidly. They hate dealing with the long-term kinds of dilemmas that will characterize the future.

Slide 3

VUCA is an unpleasant acronym, but I have found it surprisingly useful as a way to open conversations about the future. It stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.

Slide 4

The nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.

Slide 5

Assumptions about logical human behavior are being challenged in the face of extremes—like indiscriminate killing of civilians and children, or suicide bombings. In this kind of world, an increasing number of leadership challenges will be embedded in dilemmas—some of which look like problems.

Slide 6

It originates from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania—the U.S. Army’s graduate school for generals-to-be—which is now informally calling itself “VUCA University.” Sometimes perceived as the most conservative, the most hierarchical, and the slowest moving of the military branches, the army is transforming itself.

Slide 7

On horses with 14th century wooden saddles – equipped with sensors connected via satellite – escorted by Afghan allies and translators – and their job is to identify targets to be destroyed – it doesn’t get more VUCA than this.

Slide 31

From Supply Chain to Supply Webs

Slide 34

Realization that we have to look at an equilibrium between growth and sustainability

Slide 41

We all need some comfort and security in life. In order to thrive, beyond just surviving, people must take on dangers and turn around the uncomfortable VUCA acronym by developing the skills and state of mind that I describe as having Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility.

Slide 42

Volatility yields to Vision. Vision means having a clear intent, a clear direction for your actions. Vision is much more important than foresight, since vision seeks to create a future—not just study the future. With clear vision, creative space opens for innovation within the parameters that you specify. A bold vision sees beyond volatility, with a kind of calm perspective that is not trapped by the assumptions of the present.

Slide 43

Uncertainty yields to Understanding. In the face of uncertainty, listening and understanding can help leaders discover new ways of thinking and acting. Listening leads to understanding, which is the basis for trust. In order to understand, you must learn to listen carefully without judging too soon. The VUCA world creates an urgency to act quickly, but sometimes it is a false sense of urgency. The best leaders have the presence and calm to listen before talking, to open an opportunity for deep understanding. Understanding is a prerequisite to trust, and trust is vital to building community.

Slide 44

Complexity yields to Clarity. Leaders must help others make sense out of complexity. The VUCA world rewards clarity because people are so confused that they grasp at anything that helps them make sense out of the chaos. At times, clarity will be rewarded, even when it turns out to be wrong. Clarity is good, and we should strive for it, but not at the expense of truth. The thoughtful leader’s quest is to be both clear and accurate, simple but not simplistic. Clarity is usually possible, even when there is no control.

Slide 45

Ambiguity yields to Agility. In an ambiguous world, leaders must be ready for surprises. Leaders can’t surrender to ambiguity—that would lead to paralysis and confusion. Rather, leaders must learn how to be agile and responsive to attack. The VUCA world rewards networks because they are agile, while it punishes the rigidity and brittleness of hierarchies.

Slide 42

Volatility yields to

Summary: Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – that’s the world we live in – it’s a VUCA world. This talk will explore how IT can provide strategic vision and dilemma management that will enable their companies to maintain sustainable growth during this tumultuous economic downturn. The process of strategic leadership and decision making is more vital than ever, companies will either succeed or fail and it will happen faster than ever. As leaders, we cannot predict the future, but we can certainly provoke it by using a “foresight-to-insight-to-action” approach in sensing the future to compete in the present

Tags: leadership vuca leader management agility adaptive