Tips for Navigating VUCA

Working alongside our clients and listening to many other businesses in recent weeks, it’s been great to witness their common purpose, adaptation and creativity as we all adjust for the road ahead.  Many examples of problem solving at its finest. Navigating through COVID-19 has been challenging for everyone so far, and the virus remains ‘front of mind’ for us all.

But herein lies the risk of being dazzled by the most prevalent, most tangible and most ‘contemporary’ issue.  The focus needed to ‘dance’ with COVID-19 for some time to come cannot divert all our attention from the rest of today’s VUCA* world.  Lightning does strike twice – the world (especially the VUCA world) doesn’t just present one crisis at a time.

So, as your business makes progress along the road to a recovery, we offer 5 simple thoughts to help you navigate safely:

  1. Look ahead, look up and look out. Do everything you can to see the horizon (and think about what lies beyond).  Consider Brexit….cyber….geo-political aftershocks…supply chain…a second wave…further loss of staff…and so on.
  2. Develop an ongoing, meaningful and well communicated understanding of the current and likely future situation within your business and beyond.
  3. Think carefully about what this situation means for you now and in the future – apply critical thinking.
  4. Use this understanding to guide ‘whole business’ planning and action (with resilience near the centre) for current and future operations (near and medium term). This doesn’t need lots of people, but it does need a focussed, permanent and persistent effort.  Think about using a ‘nerve centre’ approach to tie things together.
  5. Be ‘anti VUCA’. In other words, tolerate the uncertainty (with crisis ready people and processes), make sense of the complexity (by assessment, focus and planning), reduce the ambiguity (make decisions quickly enough – the 70% solution in time is better than the perfect solution later) and, above all, be ready to respond to volatility and other shocks (be agile enough to adapt and take a new route to your goals).

So, of course it’s important to learn from what’s happened so far and deal with the immediacy of the pandemic.  But at the same time look ahead and look out.  Watch out for the falling pianos…become more anti-VUCA.

*Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous

If you want to discuss any of these ideas or find out more please message any of our team or visit