Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thriving in a VUCA World

Earlier this week I attended the annual conference of the Executive MBA Council where directors of these programs from across the globe gather once a year to share best practices, concerns, and plans for the future.

A common concern that was expressed: “How do we prepare executives to survive in VUCA world?”  Indeed, the environment in which we all operate is increasingly:





Taking the contrarian view, I’ll actually suggest that the VUCA world provides even more opportunity than ever before for leaders who are Externally Focused, have Clarity of Purpose, and remain Nimble.

Externally Focused.  Thriving in a VUCA world takes vigilant attention to trends and changes in the environment.  What are you reading and who are you talking to about changes in the environment?  Make sure to get out of the office regularly and talk with clients, collaborators, and even competitors.

Clarity of Purpose.  With mission firmly in mind and – hopefully – specific mission metrics and goals, you can stay on course even as the environment churns about you.  Today’s environment has been described as “permanent whitewater.”  Swimming in an ocean of whitewater requires you to keep focused on the specific spot on shore where you are going.  This allows you to adjust rather than getting swept where the waves want to take you.

Nimble.  Don’t be wedded to past practices if you aren’t getting the results you need.  The VUCA world requires creative responses to changes in the environment.  Make sure that you and your team remain focused on results, not process.

If you do these things and – as the saying goes – “keep your head while those around you are losing theirs,” then you will see and seize opportunities that others miss.  And that will continually enhance your Mission Impact.

For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

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