DO YOU HAVE YOUR VUCA NIGHT GOGGLES?

Have you ever looked through a pair of night goggles when it is pitch black dark?

It really is quite amazing what you can see.  Things appear that are otherwise completely invisible to your unaided eyes.  These are invaluable tools for use by military forces as well as wild game hunters.  Night vision goggles work by using image enhancement technology that collects all the available light, including infrared light, and amplifies it so that you can easily see what’s going on in the dark.

Often these night vision goggles are used to help us identify or discover potentially disruptive creatures (sometimes human and sometimes not).  Recently, I participated in a very interesting meeting with some colleagues in another learning and consulting company. We discussed various ways of anticipating change and discovering the forces of disruptive change coming at us,  i.e. the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) that surrounds us.  This idea of night goggles came to mind.

Sometimes I think it would be very helpful if there were a corporate variety of vision enhancing technology – ways for helping leaders to “see” what is happening in and around their organizations that often stays invisible.  There are many amazing technology solutions for many things – I have my doubts whether we can simplify this equation enough to reduce it to an app or new device.  In the absence of such off-the-shelf solutions, business leaders will need to rely on training their perspectives and building awareness of the kind of questions and resources that can to help them recognize where their disruptive change is coming from next.

That is the essence of THE VUCA REPORT – a global collaborative pulse survey we launched two years ago in an effort to help us all better identify, recognize and understand the disruptive forces of change coming at us faster and faster each day. Just like with night vision goggles, as you begin to explore the right questions you can begin to see things you may not have seen before.  In THE VUCA REPORT,  we have been tracking 35 disruptive factors categorized in the areas of  technological advances, economic dynamics, environmental & social issues, geopolitical dynamics, regulatory & cyber security issues and a collection of issues grouped as workforce dynamics.

What is additionally interesting are the open-ended questions we ask …

  • What practices are you doing NOW that are helping you counter the effects of VUCA? 
  • What practices have you seen others do or that you plan to do in the FUTURE?
  • What do you see as the OBSTACLES standing in the way of making improvements in your agility?

Lastly, THE VUCA REPORT has been collecting data about the extent to which leaders believe they have the essential agility capabilities in their organizations to counter the effects of the VUCA context and navigate the future with success.  Those capabilities map out on THE AGILE MODEL® as outlined below:

As we all face the VUCA that lies ahead, it will become increasingly essential that we become better equipped with organizational night goggles or at least a better lens and skills to face this otherwise daunting future.  The capability areas outlined above give us a good roadmap for discussion and self-examination.

  • How are you doing in the area of Anticipating Change … do you keep getting surprised by your customers and competitors and sometimes even your employees?
  • How well are you Generating Confidence internally with your teams and externally with your investors, customers and suppliers?
  • How effective are you at Initiating Action on the right things – making decisions better and faster at all levels in your organization?
  • How pervasive is the drive for fresh, innovative thinking (FIT) across your organization?
  • How well does your whole team know and understand how to Evaluate Results and what real success means for all?

As leaders begin to regularly examine and prosecute these kind of questions (and more), they begin to SEE things in their organizations that they did NOT see before.  They begin to see the obstacles AND the enablers for becoming better and faster at those things that really matter.  In the south, there is an old saying “when the water level is low – the stumps will show”.  Don’t wait until your water level is too low from not adapting as needed to stay competitive and agile.  Use these AGILITY GOGGLES to see into your people, processes and technology domains and discover the opportunities for becoming more FOCUSED, FAST & FLEXIBLE … aka AGILE.

I look forward to hearing your feedback and perspectives about the lens and questions you think will help illuminate the next practices for countering the effects of VUCA in your world and helping you create the agility advantage.

Siri, Drive the Kids to Soccer Practice

Siri, Drive the Kids to Soccer Practice

Touchscreen ordering at McDonald’s. Self-checkout at the grocery store. 

Programmable logic controllers that guide manufacturing processes. Industrial robots that weld, assemble and, even, inspect. 

And perhaps one that really sparks widespread imagination: driverless vehicles. We probably have some time before we can get a positive result from telling our iPhones, “Siri, drive the kids to soccer practice,” but

Read More

What 280 Executives Said They Face

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 

Read More

HR in 2016: Top Industry Insights from SHRM, Bersin and SIOP

HR in 2016: Top Industry Insights from SHRM, Bersin and SIOP

One increasingly common trend is, well, trend reports. Professional organizations, research firms and consultancies frequently publish what they see as the latest developments or top predictions for the future. Depending on the source, these trend reports can be thought-provoking and insightful.

At the very least, I find it interesting to see what various leaders see on the horizon. 

Recently, three

Read More

The Math of VUCA: How Many Ways Can You Combine 6 Lego Bricks?

The Math of VUCA: How Many Ways Can You Combine 6 Lego Bricks?

We live in a world of increasing VUCA.  Not least of all just because of pure math.

Think of the math involved in growing your team by adding people.

If two of us start a business today, we have one person-to-person conversation to manage. If we add a third person tomorrow, now we have three person to person conversations to manage. A fourth person the day after takes us to six conversations. Then a fifth person takes us to 10 conversations, a sixth person to 15 conversations, and a seventh person to 21 conversations! That last person adds

Read More

Anticipating Change in 2016

Anticipating Change in 2016

We all now recognize that the only certainty is uncertainty and the prospect for even more change will surely define 2016.  There are highly visible forces of change like the presidential election drama, growing tensions with Russia in the Middle East maelstrom and the on-going global anxiety around terrorism of every variety.  There are also a multitude of positive forces of change propelling innovation, productivity and new possibilities in healthcare, technology, agribusiness, sustainability and more.  This constant churn of heightened risk and continuous possibilities can contribute to organizational hysteria or present the potential for competitive advantage for those leaders and organizations committed to building superior capacity to ANTICIPATE CHANGE.

Make no mistake, change is 

Read More