Monday 13 May 2019

Winning in a VUCA business world

Companies operate today in VUCA (Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex and Ambiguous) scenarios. The question is which one will survive facing new opportunities and treats related to the unceasing and accelerating business transformations, due for example to the digital revolution? Which ones will gain a sustained competitive advantage? And for how long? The key must be a tremendous change on people’s’ attitudes when facing new ways of working and living … In fact a sustained inside-out learning process to improve each person’s potential is a must.

Today everything is changing continuously and in an accelerating way. No one is sure the way businesses work today is a success formula to use in the near future concerning emerging businesses, business models, business strategies, business operations, leadership, etc. Peter Hawkins refers to the Darwin´s law for companies’ survival: L ≥ E.C (Learning must be equal or greater than the speed of Environmental Change). It means that companies must Learn and change very quickly to survive in a tremendous and never seen Environmental Change!

Every time companies embrace change there are three interrelated perspectives that should be always addressed: Technology, Business and People.

What companies, universities, R&D players, science & innovation institutions, etc. are doing regarding technology are well known. Today technology issues can be read (and experienced) everywhere and new applications / solutions are available, changing the way we are doing business and the way we live. Today’s technology improvements were unimaginable a few years ago in areas like AI (Artificial Intelligence), Big Data, IoT (Internet of Things), Robotics, Automatic Learning, Mobility, Energy, Biotechnology , Nanotechnology, etc. These solutions are no more future dreams, they are present realities. And realities that are changing the way we live (in both individual and social perspectives) and the way we should do businesses.

In the scope of Business, companies are now trying to understand how this technology boost could improve their business, exploring new opportunities, new markets, new players and new relationship models on global and very complex systemic environments. Issues like fast emerging businesses, new businesses models and processes, adaptive strategies, Co-management, globalization, disintermediation, global environment and climate changes are constantly in companies boards’ agendas to answer the pace of change and to respond to technological impacts, opportunities and treats.

Regarding the People factor, companies are now training their employers to embrace all these changes teaching them to deal with the growing and disruptive technological impact on an adaptive and unpredictable business (it's not an easy task...). They develop people skills in new technological issues, in new business aspects (new management models, new operations techniques and new leadership and Co-leadership methods) and they are training people for new relationship scenarios namely with Millennials, Z generation and stakeholders with a new business perspective and positioning.
But my point is… Is that enough? Are individuals prepared to deal with a continuous and uncertain job and career? Are individuals prepared to work and live in a permanent changing environment? Are individuals prepared to grow (I dare saying “to live”) all the time outside their comfort zone? Are individuals prepared to always be aware of their purpose, since business objectives change so quickly? Are individuals prepared to think always “outside of the box” since conditioned minds are condemned to failure? Are individuals’ self-belief and self-esteem strong enough to sustain the “outside” forces that a VUCA business environment is putting on their shoulders? And what about the individuals’ emotional state? Are individuals focused on the present moment to perform an outstanding job or are they continuously anxious and depressed? Are individuals happy when they are working? Do individuals “put action” with no fear of making mistakes or be judged from others? Do individuals work and live with no fear and with passion?

According to my coaching and consulting experience with a considerable number of managers and teams from several companies and institutions my answer is NO! Unfortunately most people are not ready yet to embrace the tremendous change that business environment is experiencing, which is so painful for them. So I am strongly convinced that an inside-out learning process is a must for the individuals’ transformation, to create and improve a powerful attitude when facing new ways to work. People are still the most important asset inside companies and without them companies will not survive facing continuously and accelerating changes.

Companies with individuals and teams trained to work in a permanent changing and uncertainty systemic environment most of the time outside their comfort zone, prepared to think always “outside the box” with unconditioned minds, with a strong self-belief and self-esteem, emotionally balanced, focused on the present moment to perform an outstanding job with no anxiety or depression symptoms, with a strong passion to “put action” with no fear of making mistakes or to be judged from others are companies prepared to deal with the growing and disruptive technological impact on adaptive and unpredictable businessand so they are companies prepared to win in VUCA business scenarios. So start preparing “powerful balls” (not those who are crushed by external forces), then the clubs, then find the new game rules, and then you´ll be prepared to play this kind of “new golf game” with dynamic shaking fairways and moving holes. But never play it with ordinary balls… You´ll never pass the first hole even if you have the best gear or the best strategy. So change people's attitude first!