What is VUCA and why is it important? VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.
Let’s break these terms down a bit:
Volatility – In volatility, things are changing, and usually changing rapidly. This might mean that market conditions are changing, regulations are changing, or dollar values are changing. What do you notice about volatility in your context?
Uncertainty takes many forms. From not knowing what’s around the corner, to not knowing what’s needed, uncertainty can paralyze teams. Becoming comfortable in operating without a lot of certainty is often takes a different mindset. It may also mean that we become “comfortable with the uncomfortable” and learn to make decisions based on the information which is available (and may not be comprehensive or may change).
Complexity is one of the biggest challenges to leaders and teams today. This may mean we need a variety of skills from across disciplines and/or a wider understanding of more things. Helping to simplify what we can, can offer an antidote to complexity.
Ambiguity occurs when things are not clear. This may be due to things changing regularly OR due to the complexity. What can you do to become more discerning, see the patterns which exist, or break things down into more discrete pieces?
In supporting teams and leaders in organizations today, four things we can do in support of operating at our peak in a VUCA environment:
#1 – Create consistency around process. With so much change around a team, consistency is key to success. Consistency can take several forms on teams including consistent meetings, consistent check-ins, regular one-on-one coaching sessions, regular reporting. Revisit these on a regular basis as contexts may change – what frequency is needed?
As a team discuss what does consistency mean? What’s important to you?
#2 – Connect people with the bigger picture. While the details may change (and do!) the bigger picture – where we are going, what’s important to us, what we are aiming for – is likely to stay more stable. Vision and mission create an anchor. They also provide an important marker when things do change.
#3 – Keep it simple. A VUCA context can paralyse and overwhelm. Keeping things simple does not mean simplifying. It means emphasizing what is core. Consider questions like “What’s essential? vs. What’s a nice to have?” OR “What are the three bullet points to emphasize?”. Help team members discern any patterns within what might appear chaotic.
#4 – Connect people with others. Part of ongoing change means that we often don’t know what or who we need down the road. Connecting members of the team with others supports them in knowing who they can reach out to, or where they can go for support. Connections may include both internal and external stakeholders.
For more on the topic of VUCA, check out these other Teams365 posts:
- Teams365 1770: VIDEO – Six Ingredients for Teams in Today’s VUCA World (2 min)
- Teams365 #1611: Teamwork in Complexity – Focus and Renewal
Leadership | Teamwork | Business Success
Author of multiple books including Effective Virtual Conversations (2017), PlanDoTrack (2019) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (2013)
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