The Idea: Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, recently stated, “Despite all this rapid change in the computing industry, we are still at the beginning of the digital revolution.” The revolution has only just begun.  We all look for certainty in an increasingly uncertain world and we overprotect ourselves from the risk of loss.  This inherent response can lead us to make bad decisions; no decisions or to freeze up altogether. It’s our defense mechanism and it’s how we are wired.

How do we confidently navigate an unpredictable world?

I was recently reminded of the VUCA theory by Kantar Consulting’s Bryan Gildenberg. VUCA is an acronym developed in the wake of the Cold War to describe the complexities of a post-war world; and it’s relevant today.  We live in a culture of increasing Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. I see this personally with my clients who are confronting hyper-competition in an anxiety-ridden business environment.

Most leaders are feeling more anxious than ever before and it stems from fear rooted in VUCA. The research shows that our culture is more anxious today than they were a year ago, with 39% of people reporting they consistently feel more anxiety. How’s your organization coping?  Take a moment to quickly assess your competitive threats:

Volatility – Are you broadly preparing for change while structured for agility and speed?;
Uncertainty – Are you investing in advisors and expanding your contextual knowledge?;
Complexity – Do you have diverse specialists in your corner helping you see your blind spots and interconnectedness of your challenges?; and
Ambiguity – Have you embraced a “test and learn” mindset to illuminate next steps?

During coaching or training sessions, I try to help leaders recognize risk and blind spots that hinder their team’s performance.  VUCA should create stress, but it is also a catalyst to seize new growth. The sooner we get “comfortable being uncomfortable,” the better.

The sooner you start working with a trusted coach, the better.

The VUCA paradigm shines a light on the inevitable: things will continue to change. Asking the above questions force us to objectively assess how we are handling complexity and the unknown.  What discussions should you have with your team this week that feel uncomfortable?

Truth is rarely simple or certain. Are you playing tight or embracing a changing, uncertain world?