What 280 Executives Said They Face

Turbulence ahead.

That’s one key message I learned while writing the inaugural issue of The VUCA Report™, which outlines findings from an ongoing study I’m spearheading here through The Strategic Agility Institute.

This study essentially focuses on two elements: (a) the forces of change that executives face and (b) what they’re doing about it. We were fortunate to have had 280 responses (from almost as many different organizations) to analyze for this first issue of The VUCA Report™.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this global, collaborative effort.

Regarding the forces of change, we built upon the “VUCA” framework, which was first coined by social scientists at the U.S. Army War College in the early 1990s. VUCA stands for four aspects of turbulence, so to speak: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

Our analysis of the data suggests that VUCA will continue to increase, with a current VUCA Index™ of 69.57. This is an estimate from 0 (much less) to 100 (much more) regarding the expected level of future turbulence.

Additionally, we asked the 280 executives in our sample about their perceptions of 35 disruptive trends. These 35 trends fell across five categories: (a) technological advances, (b) economic and financial issues, (c) environmental and societal concerns, (d) geopolitics, regulations and security issues and (e) workforce dynamics.

It’s important to note that our data were from executives across all functions and numerous industries, so we’re relatively confident about what these data reveal. Interestingly, of the 10 most highly rated disruptive trends, five of them were in the category of workforce dynamics.

Leaders in the world of human resources, talent management and organizational development: Take heed.

We then turned our focus to agility, which describes the ability to sense and respond to change quickly at the leader, team and organizational levels. Our experience—and that of many others—strongly suggests that agility is the antidote to VUCA. As such we asked our respondents to rate their own organization across the 15 capabilities within The AGILE Model®. On average, our respondents rated their capabilities in the areas of bias for action and customer focus as relatively strong—but they rated their capabilities in decision making and real-time feedback as relatively weak.

Finally, we included three open-ended items in the survey to gather our respondents’ thoughts across three questions related to agile practices. These questions are displayed below along with a word cloud for each that depicts the top keywords from the responses.

What is the most important practice that your organization is CURRENTLY doing that is helping you become more agile?

What is the most important practice that your organization SHOULD DO in the future to help you become more agile?

What is the biggest OBSTACLE keeping your organization from becoming more agile?

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The full version of The VUCA Report™, of course, contains much more detail and analysis that you may find interesting and useful. We’re providing it to the entire world for the premium price of … nothing.

It’s totally free.

All we ask is that you take the survey that’s collecting data for the next version—Volume 1, Issue 2—of The VUCA Report™. After taking the survey, you’ll be immediately provided with a link that you can use to download this inaugural issue.

Click here to take the survey and download your copy of the inaugural issue of The VUCA Report™

Together, we hope that The VUCA Report™ and other initiatives that we’re spearheading here at The Strategic Agility Institute will help us all become increasingly focused, fast and flexible in this VUCA world.

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About Ben Baran
Ben Baran, Ph.D., is probably one of the few people in the world who is equally comfortable in a university classroom, a corporate boardroom and in full body armor carrying a U.S. government-issued M4 assault rifle. More at www.benbaran.com and www.agilityconsulting.com.