VUCA is an acronym increasingly widely used to describe the operating climate you, like most organizations, face today: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. This environment makes much of what you have learned about management obsolete and demands a new operating paradigm. A bazooka, as you may know, is a portable, electrically fired, rocket launcher for launching a projectile against tank armour.
The headline is a parody of a UK television advertisement for a brand of medical gel used to treat warts that calls for you to “Bazuka™ that Verruca!” By making a pun out of their brand name, the advertisers are attempting to convince you that their product will quickly and effectively exterminate your problem. VUCA is not so one-dimensional. Yet, while retaining the onomatopoeia and, hopefully, some sense of that imperative, my headline aims, rather, to alert you to the fact that you can still ‘blow up’ VUCA.
An article from Chief Executive magazine Can you do VUCA? 5 Key Strategies for Success offers a good starting point. It not only explains VUCA and its ramifications but also clearly spells out proven, useful strategies for “doing” it. These, however, will only take you so far. They are only strategies and, as you know only too well, there is a big difference between developing a strategy and implementing it. I am offering you something that will significantly strengthen your implementation arsenal.
Even if you could control your own employees, you cannot control people outside the organization. That is why control is such an outdated concept, even before VUCA. To truly create the empowerment and teamwork you need to effectively execute your strategy, you need to create a sense of tribe. This is when your employees have a sense of belonging, understand what is required of them and are sensitive, responsive and resilient to whatever the situation demands.
The Every Individual Matters Model™ offers you a solution to that predicament. It assigns, allocates and accounts for your people as the key assets they are, thus invoking a greater sense of pride in their work and motivating them to contribute more and thereby to increase their value. It simultaneously offers you the capability to give your employees a stake in the business, along with a new reward system. This allows them to share more equitably in the performance of the organization, and benefit from its success and suffer for its shortcomings. You would do well to come up with anything better to create that sense of tribe, with the belonging, commitment and accountability this offers.
Let’s see how this fits in with the strategies suggested in the article.
Shaping the Culture around Mission and Values
Peter Drucker is alleged to have said that, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, meaning that it is impossible to implement your strategy if your culture isn’t aligned. Remember too that culture “is the frame of reference that distinguishes one group of people from another. … A company’s culture is actually an aggregate of subcultures that have developed in response to unique challenges faced by different groups within the organization.” (Daryl R Connor). This makes it very likely that your employees, in their day-to-day activities, are more likely to shape perceptions of your organization than you are. Thus you need them to “sing from the same song sheet” if you want to proactively manage outside relationships. The Every Individual Matters Model™ will help you do this. It doesn’t address culture specifically but, by embedding accountability, ownership and belonging, it creates that sense of tribe, and cements commitment to your mission and values. As these should shape your culture anyway, this makes your strategy easier to implement.
Technology is all too often introduced at the expense of people, creating resistance. By recognising the value of your people, and inspiring the desire to increase their value and the benefits this brings, you will motivate them to make better use of technology. This will accelerate the speed of adoption, the degree of utilisation and the proficiency development of new technology. In turn this will enhance your return on investment and enable you to use your technology more effectively.
Aligning Organizational Structures
Structure is one of the primary elements of bureaucracy and, as such, is one of its last bastions. While some form of structure is unavoidable, VUCA demands a more organic approach: one where structure is incidental and transparent and where communication is open, natural and immediate. The Every Individual Matters Model™ offers you this. It creates a culture where structure is no longer a barrier to effective communication and collaboration. These are driven instead by both personal and organizational needs, where the requirements of the moment open up the communication channels, rather than shutting them down.
Establishing a Learning Organization
A learning organization, by definition, means an environment in which people are also learning. Unfortunately, all too often this is forgotten. The Every Individual Matters Model™, however, fosters a culture of learning. Employees will constantly seek to enhance their capabilities in order to contribute more and increase their value. This requires alignment of personal career needs and organizational needs but. through regular personal reviews (as distinct from more traditional ‘performance reviews’), this should not be difficult. Your employees will be better motivated to learn and your training expenditure will be more efficient and yield a greater return on investment.
VUCA shackles management decision making as the time it takes is debilitating and dangerous. This means that more devolved and more widely distributed leadership – the essence of an organic business – is imperative. As I’ve already indicated, the Every Individual Matters Model™ engenders this. By engaging employees more and making them more aware of their role in, and value to, the organization, it also empowers them with a greater sense of self-worth and importance, along with the self-confidence, to be the leaders they need to be and to make the decisions they need to make.
So there you have it. If those five strategies are a launching pad for you to effectively deal with VUCA and its implications, the Every Individual Matters Model™ offers you the rocket. It creates a powerful framework that embeds them – permanently – into your organization. It gives you the capability to ‘bazooka VUCA’ and ensure your ongoing success and your organization’s.
If you like what you have read contact me today to discuss how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model could help you value your people and provide the catalyst to help you create an organic culture where everyone cares and the business becomes our business, embedding continuous improvement that engenders ‘love at work’ and transforms – and sustains – organic business performance.
Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.