Samstag, 4. April 2015

The VUCA-World

Some managers still think of organizations and their dynamic environment as something they could either control on their own, if they just try hard enough, or even better: push it towards their intended goals and desired outcomes without causing unpredictable side-effects. Well this attitude will be solved soon – it will be sorted out by evolution, because you hardly ever ‘survive’ ignoring reality. 

VUCA Leadership

Some other managers already get the idea of the VUCA-world but unfortunately react in wrong ways – they think in a rather fatalistic approach like:
“If we can’t control the situation, why should we plan for it at all.”  

While the most impressive and competent leaders from my point of view are those who can openly handle their 'insufficiency' with attitude: 

“I have no idea, yet - how we will handle this situation, but I’m highly alert and we all need to contribute and invest into solving it.” 

So, what happened?

...that daily business becomes more and more unpredictable for leaders - almost like next month’s weather?

Looking at the VUCA-world from a systemic point of view, we as a whole society have been changing our existing communication set-up just recently. This happened when instant communication became available on a global scale - for people individually one-to-one, for larger IT-systems, which have been networked (automatically) for quite some time already in the internet and with the IoT (internet of things) which will expand this drastically to single things and objects. 

Taking these effects to describe our next society we are dealing with:
  • A highly increased density of (potential) interconnections between elements (people, systems and things)
  • An instant and spontaneous exchange of information between these elements
  • Decentralized decision making power which can echo, resonate or self organize 
These 3 factors also describe non-linear systems, well known from chaos theory, which are complex and unpredictable. This means we are dealing with completely new dynamics that probably will revolutionize the structures of post-modern society.

But, how will this impact on leaders?

Well, we don’t know exactly. But at least here are 13 hypotheses, to look at some very significant factors: 
  1. The interconnectedness of people, (sub-) systems, resources, markets and geographies is raising 
  2. A growing radius of external factors (system environments) develops higher influence on leadership
  3. The observation, selection and evaluation of information gains significance as a core competence for leaders
  4. The boundaries of organizations – between inside and outside – are evermore blurring and hard to control
  5. Any successfully learned ‘cause-and-effect knowledge’ can become wrong quickly 
  6. The superposition of states of ‘right AND wrong’ at the same time is the new normal
  7. Decision-making becomes more and more wide-ranging and therefore even more riskful
  8. The accessibility and involvement of leaders is rising to a large contact surface
  9. The personal and private life of leaders will hardly be dividable from their professional role  
  10. The shift of power from organizations towards their markets, (potential) customers and employees is unavoidable
  11. All flows and paths of information and communication on a large scale are uncontrollable but fully intercepted
  12. The psychological capability of handling ‘loss of control’ becomes another core competence
  13. The self-conception of individuals, their attitude and level of awareness will drive organizational cultures to shift 

This is a very challenging set-up compared to the 20th century, even if only half of them will affect you. But please do not ask for prefabricated solutions now. And don’t trust people who offer them. We, as a society simply don’t have them yet, because we are right at the start of a transformational process. 

Keep your eyes open, practice your professional, personal and mental fitness and make up your own mind.

Everything is changing, everything is connected, pay attention!