The successful organization in a VUCA environment (I)

The successful organization in a VUCA environment (I)

You have probably heard of the VUCA environment for a long time. With the current health crisis, talking about the VUCA environment is the order of the day, and adapting organizations to function in this environment is key to their future. The philosopher Kant said, "The intelligence of an individual is measured by the amount of uncertainty that he is capable of supporting" which we could transform into "the future of organizations depends on the amount of uncertainty they are capable of surfing."

What is the VUCA environment?

Even though it is a term that appeared in the 90s, the globalization and transformation of the markets of the last decade have made more and more organizations prepare for this environment. On the other hand, other organizations have simply had to adapt to it without waiting for it. VUCA, responds to the terms of volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

  • Volatility: constant change, this being the only 'status quo', at an ever-increasing speed. Long-term strategies (5-10 years) are no longer valid.
  • Uncertainty: the need to face more and more unforeseen situations, making it difficult to foresee events and the ability to anticipate them. The traditional management and control tools that allowed creating future scenarios cannot foresee these new scenarios.
  • Complexity: in the relationships that may exist (or their absence), between cause and effect and between different elements of organizations and environments. In identifying the key information within the information overload and noise that is generated in the environment/system. Organizational relationships have become complex systems.
  • Ambiguity: lack of clarity, of adequately interpreting the situation, difficulty in conceptualizing threats and opportunities.

Currently, many experts add the letter H for Hyperconnectivity at the end of VUCA, referring to their ability to proactively connect anytime, anywhere.

Therefore, in a VUCA environment, anything can happen. Where many times there are several possible solutions, which it could be that none is good for everyone. Where it is necessary to have a good perspective of the environment and be able to not complicate or simplify itself excessively. Where managers must be able to identify key issues and implementers focus on key actions. Where leaders must make decisions very quickly after processing large amounts of information in a short time.

Faced with this new dynamic, changing and global paradigm, it is more relevant to have the ability to react and adapt to change than planning itself. It is necessary to unlearn what we have learned, become agile learners and implement new work methodologies such as 'Lean', 'Scrum', or 'Agile'. The philosophy of the organization must be sustained in values such as effort, perseverance and continuous adaptability. Using systemic approaches in work teams allows all members to add value to the whole system. It is key to promote the growth and maturity of the entire team, develop autonomy, responsibility and individual and collective performance as well as being able to detect and resolve possible organizational conflicts and achieve a global balance in the organization.

Both companies, work teams and the people who form them individually will have to have a persevering attitude towards complex situations, as well as be able to manage frustration, be flexible and train continuously to have a future in this type of environment. It is not easy, but for this, continuous training and the promotion of the development of soft skills in the organization, the promotion of co-creation and spaces for innovation, emotional leadership and a holistic 360º vision are some of the tricks for success that we will present soon.

Are you going to miss them? Here you can read the continuation of this article where methodologies for working in VUCA environments are explained in more detail.