How will minimum wage increases effect your business? Or whether the Chargers stay of go? Or the drought, water conservancy and water prices? These are questions which have to be on our minds if we are to anticipate the future and proactively respond accordingly.
These questions and many more arise out of VUCA. First articulated widely by the U.S. Army War College in the 1990s, VUCA is term you might have heard at Miramar, or North Island Navy Base or Camp Pendleton, as an acronym for the changing world of warfighting: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. But these are now the same forces driving change in business, because change itself has changed. Our business environment is now one of accelerating VUCA coming at us thicker and faster than ever before in an increasingly time-compressed flow. The only unsurprising thing about the future is that it will be full of surprises!
Indeed, my colleagues and I just released some new research on the subject in the form of the inaugural VUCA Report. (Volume 1, Issue 1 of The VUCA Report™ is now available! If you participated, you’ll receive your copy automatically by e-mail. If not, simply participate in the survey at The VUCA Report and you’ll get access to Volume 1, Issue 1 immediately upon completion). Here are the headlines:
- Current VUCA Index = 69.57%
- This is an estimate from 0 (much less) to 100 (much more) regarding the expected level of future VUCA.
- 280 Senior Leaders have participated so far
- We asked about 35 Disruptive Trends in 5 categories (Technological Advances; Economic and Financial Issues; Environmental and Societal Concerns; Geopolitics, Regulations and Security Issues; Workforce Dynamics) and the most disruptive trends identified were:
- Economic Cycles/Recession
- Workforce Dynamics (5 of the top 10 disruptive trends out of the 35 total analyzed are in this category)
- Technological Advances
- We asked about 15 capabilities to be agile enough to cope with VUCA
- The capability with the lowest score was Decision Making.
The antidote to VUCA is Agility and, in particular, developing the capability of AGILE Decision Making. Without sufficiently AGILE decision making, VUCA will be defining you and your future, which will be full of threat and risk. With sufficiently AGILE Decision Making, you will be defining VUCA and your future, which will be full of opportunity and reward. When there is less and less you can count on these days with any certainty, you must be able to count on your agility to adapt, no matter what.
You may have heard of AGILE and think that is only applies to software companies, departments or functions, in the form of “Agile Software Development”, or start-ups, in the form of “Lean Startup” (my translation, “Lean” + “Startup” = “Agile”) and is not applicable to you in your business. Think again! Even GE has gone AGILE! GE Invests Massively in Pivot from LEAN to AGILE.
Recognizing the increasingly VUCA world it operates in, GE has pivoted to a new AGILE culture embedded in its new “GE Beliefs”:
- Customers determine our success,
- Stay lean to go fast,
- Learn and adapt to win
- Empower and inspire each other
- Deliver results in an uncertain world
That is a massive case-study of a massive pivot to AGILE. Trust me, I have studied this and it’s not just a new spin they are putting on things, it’s a true pivot.
Keep in mind that GE invested massively in Six-Sigma and Lean and now they are pivoting to invest massively in AGILE. AGILE is the new LEAN! So big companies take note, like Qualcomm, SAIC, General Atomics and others. Keep in mind that GE makes everything from aircraft engines to washing machines, so all companies take note in all industries. Keep in mind that one organization’s pivot to AGILE becomes another organization’s VUCA! So everyone take note in all organizations in all sectors. The AGILE future of our San Diego community depends upon it.
Agility is the only competitive advantage which has any permanence these days. Everything else is increasingly temporary, increasingly quickly. AGILE is for everyone. Become students of agility. You won’t regret it.