Hey, it’s Crazy and Sad!

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With the Covid pandemic amidst upon us, it has become a trendy to use the managerial acronym: VUCA, short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, and a catchall for “Hey, it’s crazy out there! So what are the Competencies that allow for employees to be effective in such crazy times?

The law of entropy (the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity), a universal phenomenon plays itself out as simple moves to complex, single correlates to multiple, and order to seemingly disorder. The only constant they say is Change. In such times, I would like to share my reflections what are the critical issues employees need to manage in such VUCA times.

For one, Soothsayers are many. Truth is, no one really knows what is out there. For many, the future will not be unknown, some will make it happen. Rather, than crystal ball the impossible, I would urge we develop ‘white water rafting’ skills to navigate our current environment and work our way through the ‘next twenty yards’.

The Metaphor of White Water Rafting

The metaphor throws up many competencies relevant to our times. I shall elaborate on four.

For one, Need for Speed. Almost everything is required to be done in ambitious deadlines. During such times, one cannot cross the chasm in two leaps, and one needs to simultaneously work on both the urgent and the important. Change agents need to work hard, and smart, anticipate issues that would come up, while consolidating gains already made. At these times, discerning the 80:20 will help as well, and to avoid being trapped with ‘busyness’.

Secondly, need to manage ambiguity and uncertainty. Change by definition, means the design elements are changing. I have realised that people are open to change, provided they can be helped through moving out of their comfort zones, feel ‘safe’ in the change process, and if asked to participate. The key is to ensure regular communication at all times: milestones and clear path to destination. In addition, fair set of consistent and fair and sensitive principles, on how people would be managed in such times.

Thirdly, the change champion needs to manage personal frustration. During each day, there would be countless trough and peaks: trials and tribulations. She requires to be balanced and moderate her emotions through this period. Emotional intelligence is the act of using one’s emotion for self and the other. Frustration is the result of ‘what I love is threatened’ and hence the reactivity that follows. Ensuring that thought, emotions and actions are balanced and in harmony is key during such stressful times. Hope and curiosity are two positive emotions that exist in troubled times. Crucial to see the ‘glass half full’.

Finally, during explosive change the change agent needs to manage personal obsolescence.  Managing change requires new skills: often drawing from past experience, often crafting new solutions, most often re-inventing oneself. The ability to reflect and learn and be willing to recognise one’s own limitations and lack of knowledge is crucial. Wise is he, who knows that he knows not.

What do you think? What other metaphors come to your mind?

Please Comment and Engage, and let’s start a Conversation, shall we?

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