New competencies for an uncertain world

We live in an age of competencies. Not a job description, not anymore the mechanization of elementary task defines us. Progressing technology allows each time more to be human again, avoiding the simplified reduction of behavior, installed during the rise of the early machines. New challenges will raise not just about organizations and their business logic. Each individual has to adapt to futures realities that are increasingly technological progressive and human centered.

I call out to increase our competences to:

  • lead with agility balanced with purpose
  • integrate information and define meaningful questions
  • adapt and create constantly options
  • experiment in an environment that knows its limits

 

Those four characteristics relate to VUCA, an acronym for a reality in dramatic change. It stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Those four words describe an environment with decisions in uncertainty where constant challenges drive organizations actions. And we know this challenges already too well today.

Nathan Bennett and James Lemoine presented in their HBR 2014 article four counter-actions to balance VUCA. Those are agility, information, adaptation and experimentation and blending them with the Future Value Generation is very insightful. (Please visit my Slidedeck to explore further, how VUCA integrates with the Future Value Framework: http://bit.ly/1Ig1d8A).

 

Each uncertainty is an opportunity.

 

Agility is a key response to volatility. We should act faster; compensate our existing organizational parts with new solutions that are lighter and faster, blended. Startups express such a freedom so is the new rising gig/stint economy. Yet we need to balance velocity with much stronger bonds (purpose) than pure mobilization towards a "vision". Emotion driven inspiration is not enough. We have to boost our purpose as strategic asset as well as fundamental bond with internal/external stakeholders. Purpose has the power to balance velocity and uncertainty.

We reduce uncertainty by incorporating new levels of information. Big data and Design (in its variation) come into play. Both allow us to understand the reality from different perspectives. The concepts provide a base for a new decision-making, humanized and more holistic. Yet it is not enough to have access to information. We need to reduce our biases and to step back and define new meaningful questions. In a reality where the intangible and tangible blend into shorter and shorter “interactions” of consumption each decision has to generate positive value.

Adaptation helps to transform complexity into opportunity. We need to let go, learn new topics and generate new solutions each time faster. To respond to the changes and exploit opportunities as they come we have to have many options accessible. We shall be prepared and constantly create. This is where innovation comes into play. Not as problem solving initiative but as a continuous process to generate options aligned to key strategic orientations. By doing so, we increase the strategic buffer allowing fast tactical decisions aligned to our future value position.

Experimentation is key to manage ambiguity. To do so, we need to create a profound awareness of the strategic competencies and limits of the organization and its individuals. We should reduce unnecessary risk exposure of people/organization in a balancing act allowing leaders to lead and innovation to flourish.

Agility, new source of information, adaption and experimentation are critical pillars for the new value generation. Yet before defining what competency to pursue, organizations need to understand their originality, limits and velocity of change.

 

Thank you for reading my post. Please spread the word and your point of view in the comments. Here are the other recent posts I have written: