How to Thrive in a VUCA Environment | Mike Clayton | Skillshare

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How to Thrive in a VUCA Environment

teacher avatar Mike Clayton, Business Speaker and Author

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

14 Lessons (41m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. VUCA Prime

    • 3. Compelling Causes

    • 4. The Gemba

    • 5. Strategic Networking

    • 6. Powerhouse Peak

    • 7. Click Bubble and Hum

    • 8. Constructive Conduct

    • 9. Horizon Scanning

    • 10. Powerhouse Modes

    • 11. Curiosity

    • 12. Powerhouse Loop

    • 13. Empty Inbox

    • 14. Better Decisions

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About This Class

Dealing with the Challenges of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity

The acronym VUCA - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous - was coined in the 1990s.

It describes many people's experience of their workplace extremely well.

In this kind of environment, it can be hard to feel like you are coping - let alone thriving.

That's certainly how I felt!

It's also something that training participants and seminar audiences have been asking me about for years. So I decided to collate the ten best tools and principles I know into a short, sharp course.

One of the most valuable approaches to thriving in a VUCA world is the Pareto Principle; the 80:20 rule...

The 80:20 rule says that you get 80 per cent of the value from the best 20 per cent of the ideas...

... when you apply it well.

So, here is the best 20 per cent.

Apply it well, and you'll make a huge difference to your success at work.

Good Luck!

Dr Mike Clayton

What you’ll learn

  • Thrive amidst volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.
  • Reognise the need to select what you focus on
  • Build a strategic network of valuable contacts
  • Know where to work at your peak
  • Scan your horizon for changes, trends, threats and opportunities
  • Harness the simple success system for life during change; the Powerhouse Loop

Who this course is for:

  • This course is designed for anyone who has to work in a volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous workplace
  • If that sounds like where you work, then you'll be familiar of the feeling of not being in control.
  • If you want to be in control; if you want to cope; if you want to do more than that, and thrive; then this course will show you how.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Mike Clayton

Business Speaker and Author


Hello, I'm Mike.

I'm a business trainer, consultant, author and speaker. Over the last 15 years, I have trained many thousands of supervisors, managers, leaders, and professionals.

Since 2002, I've been helping professionals, managers and leaders to excel in their roles with management, leadership, and personal effectiveness training.

I have written over a dozen books for major publishers like Wiley, Macmillan and Pearson, including: Powerhouse, How to Manage a Great Project, How to Speak so People Listen, Brilliant Time Management, and The Influence Agenda.

My professional background is 12 years as a project management professional with the London office of international management consultancy Deloitte. Prior to that, i had an academic career in Physics, wor... See full profile

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1. Introduction: We're living in a buka world. BUCA volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Turnbuckle was coined to represent the new realities of military environment but no longer hack the simple left right black white polarities from an earlier age. It appeared first in the 19 nineties and gained ground in the early part of this century. But the concept of complexity and uncertainty, the term fog of war has been around since the 19th century, and generation upon generation known that reality. But of course we're not soldiers, warriors, competence in the world of work, the same volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity or apply the modern workplace is a buka environ. He's just a confusing justus, hard to take control. So the question is, how can you thrive in a book environment? That's what we're going to explore this short video series. 2. VUCA Prime: challenges of Lucca. Workplace demand A set of responses If you want to go beyond just coping, thrive, you must combine a set of over lacking strategies. Early articulation of the kind of strategies we comply to Buffet Environments was set up by Bobby Oh Hansen in his book Get There Early. Sensing the Future to Compete in the present, You're Hansen suggested that the solution lay in what he called Veruca Prime. This is an inversion of the four elements of the vocal acronym to make a new book acronym to deal with Volatility. You're Hansen suggested. We need vision, and our response to uncertainty has to be deeper and better Understanding. Complexity requires that we see things with clarity, and we can deal with ambiguous environments if we increase our level of agility. Each of these components responds to one of the components of the BUCA structure. Let's look at them in some more detail. Volatility implies rapid change on an instability In the current situation. You're Hanson argued that we need to respond with clarity of vision, but we also need effective means to communicate what is going on and sufficient flexibility of resources to adapt rapidly There's an important place here also for contingency planning and ensuring that we have oversupply in our systems or slack in our timelines. Uncertainty results from poor knowledge of our situation, and particularly of what may happen in the future. So you're Hansen's call for understanding seems almost like a statement of the obvious to make this happen, therefore, we need to divert resources into information gathering and analysis. We need to spread decision making across networks of people, and we need to invest in portfolios of options rather than in single initiatives. Complexity arises from a multiplicity of interconnections between often simple systems to unravel this chaos, your Hansen says, we need clarity. It is often deep specialists working together who could bring this for us. And finally, ambiguity arises when we can't make sense of the inter relationships, the meanings or the motivations. Whilst agility allows us to jump in the right direction at the last minute, it's listening hard, paying attention, testing our ideas with experiments on moving in small increments. The best allows US toe begin to understand and resolve the ambiguities. But to me, all of this sounds just a little bit theoretical. Instead, I'd like to offer you 10 practical approaches to tackling the challenges of thriving in a buka workplace 3. Compelling Causes: before the term buka was going, or even the phrase fog of war theme British agonal Admiral Lord Nelson advanced. The idea of commander's intent situation is highly dynamic, Theo. Critical requirement is that everybody shares a keen appreciation of what matters most the end go if everybody applies their best judgment to achieving this within whatever circumstances prevail. Nelson believed that battles would be one, and that is how he fought his battles by briefing his captain's on what he expected them to achieve rather than the detail tactics that he was anticipating. He knew that in the fog of war, the situation would move faster than he could possibly anticipate. In the modern workplace, we to need to cut through the complexity and uncertainty by focusing on a small number of things that really matter. These are our compelling causes. They give you permission to simplify your book a world just a little by setting aside things that matter less. Use your comparing causes as your anchor to remind you what you need to be doing and why actively review them quarterly. Because in a volatile world your priorities may change. Choose 34 or five compelling horses to dedicate the majority of your discretion 4. The Gemba: the Gamba is a Japanese concept of the place where it happens. Toyota's lean manufacturing approach. We go to the Gamber to find out what is really happening, where it is happening instead of relying on second hand information. In military parlance, this is known a seeking out the ground truth to help you cut through the ambiguities and complexities of the situation. Physically, go toe where value is delivered toe where the problem has occurred away or stakeholder sits . Don't accept third party reporting or the simplification of e mails or memos. Instead, make it your job to ask questions until listen carefully before drawing assessment with. 5. Strategic Networking: many people try to respond to volatility and uncertainty by maximizing their short term gains. This'll is wrong. Many people would get one over on other people and win temporary advantage. It's often smart, it's sometimes cynical, but it's rarely wise. If a buka workplace is likely to be a reality for much of our careers, then we need to play a much more strategic on long term game. Temporary allegiances. My shift. But long term alliances make you stronger. They create flexibility, and they provide support. But diverse group that shares overarching goals connects Ellett pattern recognition, problem solving and decision making in a way that on individual rarely can. When you connect to a wider group, you build in resilience and enhance the chances of unraveling complexity. So amplify your results through collaboration and partnerships. But remember, in a volatile and uncertain environment, you'll need to constantly invest in maintaining the quality of those relationships. To do this, you need three important steps. First, you have to understand the power structures on the capabilities among your colleagues and stakeholders. You also need to forge links and build a reputation that will encourage loyalty. And finally, you need to build on maintain alliances, which means being prepared to give at least as much as you take 6. Powerhouse Peak: under too much pressure, we can crumbles. But if the pressure isn't enough, we've become bored. House peach is the sweet spot between boredom and overwhelmed, where you are at your best. Here is where you can concentrate intently for long periods and deploy great energy and getting things done. Thriving in a buka environment means operating at your mental and physical best. To maintain this, you need to invest in three things. Your mental attitude, your emotional resilience and your physical fitness. A lot of the success you have in the workplace will be linked to the choices that you make in your personal life. Relationships, exercise, nutrition, recreational activities and the rest are all essential disciplines for high performance workers. And, of course, it would be foolish to neglect the value of mindfulness on all its forms, coping with pressures. 7. Click Bubble and Hum: There are five thinking modes, and you need to choose the right one. That situation. Sometimes you need to respond quickly and instinctively. This'll is the click mode, yet sometimes that will let you down, and you need the rigour of careful consideration bubble. Most of the time, you're in takeover. Constantly alert for threats. Hum, You may also need to ferment a deep insight. That's solely which mindfulness practices can really help you to collect. Cultivate. And sometimes you need to call upon the empathic understanding that squeak offers. Click, bubble hum, sigh and squeak, flexibility of action and behaviour, a vital in an uncertain and volatile environment. But they only come from a flexibility in thinking styles. The kind of creative, divergent thinking that harnesses the opportunities that arise from chaos require you to be able to swap mental modes frequently and easily. 8. Constructive Conduct: what matters under pressure, whether in battle or in business, isn't a blind adherence to pretty rules but iron commitment to the principles and values that make you your business organization and what you stand for. Distinct. When Marissa Mayer took over Yahoo, she initiated a campaign to tackle P B and J Process bureaucracy and jams. Her initiative encouraged staff to complain about organizational blockages on bureaucratic overheads that slow decision making and delay action. Be helpful. Be fair, treat people well, do what is right. Behave compassionately and constructively and let your values guide your decision, making toe a far greater extent from pragmatism. Winning in the short term shouldn't be your objective in a book, A world you should be focusing on the long game. 9. Horizon Scanning: be a meerkat frequently turn away from what you're focused on, head up, stand on tiptoes and scan the horizon for dangerous or opportunities. Systematic awareness of your surroundings and what is in the distance and approaching will prevent you from being caught unawares by the volatility on uncertainties of a complex world. One of the best tools for systematic horizon scanning is what I call the spectres framework . Here you're looking for the spectres of the future. Social pressures. Changes in society are especially an issue in the public and voluntary sectors or in consumer focused industries. Political. Don't forget that politics isn't just national, it's local. In fact, any office, shop, warehouse or factory with two or more people has politics Externally. Economic conditions may affect what you're doing, but this should remind you of all of the financial pressures that you are under. If you work in a competitive environment than an ex parte should remind you of your partners, your competitors, your customers, your suppliers but all of their goodwill. Luckily, technology never goes wrong. If only changes in technology also create threats and opportunities, understanding the legal and regulatory environment in which you work will help you to identify risks. These conditions may change over a long project, so you need toe. Keep serving them closely. Everyone is aware of environmental issues, but think local and immediate as well. Is your building conducive to effective work? Threats to security abound from terror through vandalism. Consider each of them. 10. Powerhouse Modes: volatility and ambiguity demand a well chosen response. You make inappropriate choices. People around you will quickly become confused, and you will add to the complexity and uncertainty of your environment. Which mode you deploy will depend on your assessment of the situation. When people are scared, they need reassurance, inspiration and decisive action. They need leadership use leader mode when you need to take charge and inspire confidence in the people around you. Take control and make decisive decisions, but also show that you're prepared to share the consequences. The risks, the discomfort on the workload that is entailed. If the situation is unclear, become an explorer and gather information. Adopt the exploration mode when you need more information to former robust decision or to design a solution to the problem at hand. Investigate, Gather data on conduct tests or experiments. Your role here is to stabilize the situation and then apply maximum brainpower toe understanding. What is going on? Sometimes compliance with procedures is necessary to get into process mode on prioritized discipline. Some tricky situations need you to focus on systems and procedures to reduce the risks of air. Under pressure to instill confidence with the reassurance of routine and to reduce the cognitive load that decision making requires. So you can free up your mental horsepower for other things where you know the problem, roll up your sleeves and go into fix it mode. Reliable problem solving needs a clear understanding of the problem. So if you don't have this returned to exploration mode, going to fix it mode when the problem is clear on what you need is a solution. If there's a real danger, it's okay to be directive, even authoritarians in crisis mode. Use this when an emergency response is needed. Focus on what needs to be done to make everything safe and secure and set everything else aside. If people around you know what to do and how to do it, they need you out of the way on helping them to get on with it. They need you in supporting mode, and there will be times when you can do nothing practical to progress. The situation itself supporting mode is caring and compassionate towards the people affected by or dealing with the implications of a problem. Offer personal attention but remain mindful of the risks of over committing yourself 11. Curiosity: in a vocal world you can never afford. Stop learning before you're aware will be unaware things you need to know frequently. Take a step back and reflect on what's happened. It may seem like a luxury that you have little time for, but this is the only way that you're slow processing. Deep insight. Sigh System can operate. Reflection is also the golden path to wisdom. Continuous learning and growth is the mark of a true powerhouse, and it's perhaps your most valuable asset for thriving amid the chaos of a vocal workplace . And it has one thing. But it's hard curiosity, an insatiable curiosity for what's going on for new knowledge, new insights, new understanding that's the secret, learning continuously and therefore unraveling complexities and ambiguities and uncertainties volatile world. 12. Powerhouse Loop: one simple cycle keeps your work on track in uncertain times. Powerhouse, Powerhouse. Loathe source of your success in a book. A World. It combines much of what we've already discussed. It's a simple model. Identify your opportunities, analyze them, put in place a plan, then take action and then identify the progress all the setbacks have made. Analyze them, create a new plan and take more action. If you pursue this cycle rapidly, you'll spot challenges and problems early and be able to respond quickly. The powerhouse loop is an answer to volatility and uncertainty. It allows you to test ideas incrementally and learn from them. The powerhouse sleep is also an answer to complexity and ambiguity, and the powerhouse loop never ends. It articulates the secret to success in anything. Intelligent assistance, keeping, going through adversity, adjusting where necessary and stopping when it no longer makes sense, ready to start something new and embodies resilience and constant learning. These two vital assets that will help you thrive in Lucca place 13. Empty Inbox: in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. One of the problems we all face is a sense of overwhelmed from a crowded inbox. And yet one of the strange delights of modern life could be easily achieved if you set your mind to it. But most of us really good. If you make time for it, a few simple actions can result in one of the most bizarrely satisfying moments an empty in box. It won't last, of course, unless you discipline yourself to make it a priority. But for a short few minutes, you'll feel exceptionally pleased with yourself. So what I want to do is to give you some tips to help you manage that. Thousands of emails you're gonna get in the next year of the bottom of many emails you get will be the option to unsubscribe. So my first tip is very simple unsubscribe from unwanted circular emails. You may well have signed up for them for good reasons at the time, but if you're no longer reading them frequently and the best thing to do just to get rid of them, what goes around comes around a lot of your emails in your inbox are there because someone replied to something you sent or you copy to them. Think carefully before writing, addressing and sending an email. Get this behavior right and your inbox will modify itself. Using your email program's sort function is a great way to clear your inbox. I sort by sender, and it becomes far easier to deal with a backlog and file the emails I want to keep. You can also sort by conversations by categories that you can allocate automatically using rules, and you can set up custom arrangements of your own. Your email system will no doubt have the ability to create folders, e mails that you want to keep but don't have time. For now. Create those folders and move emails into them. And if you want to continue to subscribe to particular sets of emails that you may not have , time will want to read. Now. You can always use rules to put him straight into the folders so that you don't have thumb clogging up your inbox. Use those rules automatically place in mounting the right folders. Of course, the disadvantages out of sight, out of mind. But if you never go back to them one on unsubscribe. But even if you don't, at least they're not bothering you. Your inbox is not at a D list. Transfer the to do requirements from your email onto your to do list system and then file will trash the email. Many people will know from my time management training that I only used to do lists as a store for ideas that I may choose to do at some time. Could do lists is a better title. Bring your important today's onto your two day list the list of things that you will do to day. Once you have your inbox under control, discipline yourself to look at each new email once and deal with it there and then read it . Act on it, reply to it, trash it, file it creator to do or a today item any of these. Just don't leave it in your inbox on. Decide when you are going to check on Act on your email. Do it once, twice or three times a day at scheduled times, not as and when the email arrives or when you get bored with your task. I go for once, early morning after a couple of hours of good work and once just before or just after lunch and then once mid or late afternoon, whatever it is, your schedule will put you in control. Not your email, not your inbox and not the person who sends you an email, which causes your screen to go being. Turn off that function. Finally, set yourself the target of clearing down to an empty in box by the end of your last scheduled email session. If you could do that daily, that's ideal. I tend to make sure I do it on a Friday afternoon at the end of the week. If you can't do that, then at least once a month set aside the time to go inbox zero. Good luck with you and 14. Better Decisions: in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. We need to be able to make good decisions on the test of a good decision. Can't be the outcome. We would never know if a decision is a good one until it was too late, and that could easily lead the decision making paralysis. Instead, consider a decision to be good if the right person took it with the best available evidence and following a sound process. Here are my 10 tips to really strengthen your decision making process More decisions Have you and your colleagues faced in the past that share one Wilmore salient characteristics with the decision that's facing you at the moment, we tend to believe that every decision is unique and so forget the value of experience. But wisdom comes from learning and generalizing and then applying appropriately to the specific case. So, firstly, make sure that having made decisions, you review the outcomes of those decisions and the process so that you can learn as you go and secondly, before making any new decision, ask yourself whether there is any relevant lessons that you can learn before taking that decision. There's always doubt you can never be a certain as you like. So stop pretending that you have certainty that you don't have Embrace the unknowns and ask What if our choice were 100% room? Consider as many different scenarios as you reasonably can and how your decision might play out in each of those scenarios, contrasting and comparing the circumstances that would have rise for each of the genuinely unknown factors on the face of it, more options means a greater likelihood of success. But the important thing is not to give yourself too many options beyond three or fall, maybe five options. You hit what Barry Schwartz calls the paradox of choice, and we find it hard to make a decision. One option is no choice at all. Two is a dilemma. Yes or No. Three. Israel Choice. But when we get too many options, we fear too much that will make the wrong choice. And so we become paralyzed and don't make a choice. In a famous experiment where shoppers were offered different choices of different numbers of jam flavors, those who offered a small number of options to choose from frequently bought one or two of those options. Shoppers who offer to wider choice really bought anything. When you're making decisions, it can be hard, and you could make it harder but more effective by encouraging rigorous debate and argument , make sure that you tracked the argument so that you understand the choices you have and you see them from different perspectives for major decisions. I like the idea of appointing a red team. If you like an opposition team to find the arguments against any prevailing view this way, you can be sure that you have considered the downsides as well as the positive. Also, make sure that if you do find differences in opinion that you understand whether the rial argument is about the data or how the data is interpreted, or the methodology used, or the way the methodology is applied or whether it's about vision or values. Because each of these differences or sources of difference will have a different resolution , it's vital to do your homework. Explore as much background information as you can get your hands on, examine different sources and different modes of information. Look at reports, presentations, do visits, observe things directly, talk to people the better your background information, the better your decision will be, and there is no better way to gather strong evidence to help with the decision than a well designed experiment test things out. The idea, prototyping and piloting ideas is to inform the big decision about whether to go forward at all and, if so, precisely what direction to take. Coming from a science background, I can tell you that one good experiment is worth 1000 theories on projections. It's often easy to find evidence to support your favorite course of action. Confirmation bias will take care of that. The thing is that humans are almost wide to see evidence that confirms what we already believe to be true but not notice evidence which conflicts with our underlying beliefs. The scientific way is to look for that one data point that would trash your theory. Look out actively for things that might prove you wrong on rather than continue to defend a busted theory, move forward and look for a new alternative. Because if a data point is repeatable, you can find yourself on the edge of a deeper understanding and maybe a step further from a potential catastrophe. My favorite approach to helping make An important decision is what Gary Klein describes as a pre mortem exercise attend that you've made the decision already and now assume that the outcome of your decision is that everything goes horribly wrong. Then ask yourself if everything did go horribly wrong, what could have caused that failure? This will take you towards a far better decision, or maybe the same one. But implemented more effectively with far fewer risks by changing the presumption from your decision leads to success to your decision leads to failure. It opens your mind toe all of the options for how things can go wrong and better understand your decision. What it does is overcomes the confirmation bias. The leads us to believe that since we've made the decision, it's almost certainly gonna be the right one. One of the things we know about teams and groups of people in general is that the wider the diversity off backgrounds experiences perspectives that they have, the more likely that group is to make a good and effective decision. So bring outsiders into your decision making. They can deliver through three effects. Firstly, being different. They think differently. They know less, perhaps, and therefore asked the simple questions that we quite often ignore on as long as we make the effort to treat those simple questions as intelligent questions and answered thoroughly , we ourselves gain a deeper understanding. And secondly, difference also creates a distinct point of view on therefore, perhaps new insights, new ways of thinking. And finally, outsiders are objective. They were, therefore, care more about getting the decision right on about the egos and the relationships within your group. Bringing in outsiders is a great way to limit and possibly even prevent the harmful, damaging effects of groupthink. My last tip is to listen, make time to not contribute to the discussion. Let others do that and focus on listening hard toe what they're saying. Turn off your filters of right and wrong and so cup. The facts and the insights and perspectives challenge everything to force the discussion, to make a robust assessment of each component. And in fact, as soon as a decision maker, let's their opinion out. You will influence everything that follows and therefore compromise your chance to hear all of the truth, because some people, we're always counter what they say in terms of what they think you think so? 10 tips to improve your decision Making history doubt options, argue background experiments crash failure outside of and listen good luck with making better.