What will your approach in VUCA be?

Patrick Hollingworth
June 26, 2015

Rather than might is right, think light is right.

Rightio, here we are again!

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 organisations 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*.

(*and what happens after that? Well, that is a REALLY cool topic to explore, but I’m saving that for an entire newsletter in a few week’s time)

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*.

(incidentally, this was one of Maggie Thatcher’s key mantras in the 1980’s, and it too has a trendy acronym – TINA)

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

Identify Your Approach

Last time we identified the Explorer’s Mindset as one of two key components to working through VUCA – we looked at how you can get your ‘mental’ house in order for VUCA.

The second component to getting ready for VUCA is to 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 David’s who have Goliath well and truly in their sites.

In the next few 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 whilst 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 gonna be really important in these VUCA times ahead

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