What will your approach to VUCA be?

What will your approach to VUCA be?By: Patrick Hollingworth, Sr. Consultant & Leadership Speaker, Executive Development Associates, Inc.

Rather than might is right, think light is right.

As you’ll see, I’m slowly building a case for a new way of doing things. In a nutshell, it goes something like this:

  1. The new landscape for ourselves and our organizations is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – we call this VUCA.
  2. The problem with VUCA is that nobody really likes it. Human beings aren’t particularly well cut out to deal with uncertainty and complexity, and it tends to make most of us feel uncomfortable and anguished. And people are not at their best when in this state.
  3. The solution to VUCA is NOT to stick your head in the sand and hope that it will go away, because it won’t. It’s here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

Rather than sticking your head in the sand and hoping that things just go back to being like they once were, where everything seemed easier, we need to accept the that there is no alternative.

Accepting that there is no alternative means preparing yourself for a bit of discomfort: we need to get comfortable getting uncomfortable.

Identify Your Approach

In order to get ready for VUCA you must first identify your approach. In other words, how are you going to do what you’re going to do?

In the pre-VUCA world, might was right. The biggest and most powerful entities were generally the most successful. Think a large superpower military, or Microsoft at the height of their market dominance in the early 2000’s. It was David and Goliath all over again, but this time round Goliath was doing the winning.

In the current VUCA world, light is right. It’s the more nimble and agile entities who are now looking to be the most successful. Think guerilla warfare or any multitude of startups such as Air BnB and Lyft. These guys are the Davids who have Goliath truly in their sights.

In future posts we’ll be looking at these two different styles of approach in a lot more detail. One which I call Expedition Style is based on might, and the other I call Alpine Style is based on light. I reckon that while Expedition Style has served us well in the past, in the future Alpine Style will be the way to go.

Identifying the appropriate approach to your work is going to be really important in these VUCA times ahead

So, what is my mantra? Rather than thinking might is right, think light is right.

About the author:

Patrick Hollingworth is a Leadership Speaker and Senior Leadership Consultant with Executive Development Associates. He works with clients across the globe to help their leaders and teams get comfortable getting uncomfortable in an organizational landscape which is becoming more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous by the day. He is the author of a book entitled The Light & Fast Organization: A New Way of Dealing with Uncertainty, published in 2016.

He is an everyday family man from Sydney, Australia. He’s also a high-altitude mountaineer, and a leadership, teamwork and safety expert. He worked towards his own personal goal of an unguided ascent of Mount Everest for ten years, and in 2010, after a lot of hard work and perseverance, he achieved it.