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“May you live in interesting times” is often referred to as a Chinese curse.

Today many international companies have identified that we are living in not just ‘interesting times’, but rapidly changing times. These companies use an acronym called VUCA to articulate this new environment.

VUCA is an acronym that was coined by the US Military to describe the extremely adverse conditions they were facing in the Middle East. VUCA stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.

They could see that the execution of old well-worn military strategies could in fact place the advantage squarely in their opposition’s court.

This can also describe the change displayed in the current business settings that are now a constant right across the world. Business owners in this age are trying to find ways to make sense of the ever-changing conditions within business and the challenges that they face as they navigate their business through this constantly changing landscape. We now have rapid change and challenge from politics, economics, society and the environment, as is evident from just one nightly news bulletin.

Problem solving and problem reduction were approaches from the past. Using measured and slow moving, tried-and-tested manoeuvres now only reveals to your competition where you are heading. Such approaches impact on your long-term survival in a negative way. The competition is no longer constrained by having only the same resources as you. Previously your 2000 staff, your equipment and your physical locations were in the assets column on a strategic planning day; now they might be your Achilles heel.

Therefore, companies that have been taking the time to reduce the uncertainty and problem-solve are now being encouraged to start building in processes to actively engage with uncertainty, which ultimately requires higher levels of agility within the leadership and the company structures, and a commitment to action when opportunities arise.

Impact Innovation Group works with a number of organisations that have faced the future’s uncertainty and are focused on actively embracing the changing environment by enacting a strategy of innovation and exploration.

Here are some of the actions and changes that you can make to help drive your company effectively in a VUCA world:

  • Reach outside yourself and your organisation to bring more timely knowledge into the business around what is changing and how this is impacting your clients.
  • Focus on your Value Proposition. If you don’t know what you deliver, to your clients beyond your product, then it’s almost impossible to innovate products and services of real value.
  • Foster collaborations or even conversations outside of your field of knowledge or industry. Change will often come from a quarter least expected.

If you feel like you are operating a business in a VUCA world and would like to adapt your organisation and thinking to meet these times, then contact us on + 61 (0)7 3041 1128 to discuss your next steps.

– Cameron Johns, Impact Innovation Group Manager – Programs.

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