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I had the opportunity to sit through a parenting seminar last night hosted by a well-known author and psychologist, Madeline Levine.  There were many pertinent topics discussed, but one of the things that stuck most in my mind was the discussion about how our kids are entering an adulthood that is characterized as being Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.

And that got me thinking that the challenges we have in preparing our children for this type of environment are essentially the same challenges we as Product Management leaders face on a day-in/day-out basis.

As I dug into topic a bit this morning, there were a plethora of search results dealing with VUCA … from business articles, to college related studies, to military situations.  Following are some of the tidbits I found most intriguing.  This post is a bit longer than normal because I reference concepts from multiple sources … but I trust you will find them valuable.

From Wisdom at Work – Navigation Skills for Thriving in “VUCA” Times

“We have also learned that in the Zulu language, the word vuca means “to wake up”  – a practice crucial for these times and essential for learning, wisdom, compassion, and creative adaptation.”

“It is becoming increasingly clear that to thrive amidst these challenging circumstances requires developing our capacity to flip or transform the ordinary VUCA elements into the extra-ordinary elements of Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Adaptability that can help us navigate through powerful currents of global change.”

From Forbes – Six Creative Leadership Lessons From The Military In An Era of VUCA

  1. Appreciate and Engage Diversity – to solve the most complex problems engage multiple, diverse perspectives.
  2. Appreciate Generalists – perspectives brought by generalists in mixing with specialists can spur creativity
  3. Decision Making – as a basis for fostering collaboration and creative excellence, leaders should be deliberate about making value-based, and well-communicated decisions
  4. Practicing Discipline – team and organizational discipline (think rules of engagement), consistency of interactions with subordinates
  5. Managing and processing information systematically – be deliberate and systematic about deciding how to manage conflicting and often overlapping information
  6. Role modeling behavior and integrity – leaders need, through their integrity and actions, to serve as role models to their subordinates

From Harvard Business ReviewWhat VUCA Really Means For You

Harvard Business Review Perspective

From Ere.net (Talent Management/Recruiting Site) – VUCA: the New Normal for Talent Management and Workforce Planning

I encourage you to read this article for yourself, but in particular these elements about 1/2 way through caught my attention …

“…leaders must prepare for disruptive problems and opportunities that cannot be predicted … ”

  • Agile employees — Develop as a primary goal a focus on the hiring, training, and retaining of employees and managers who are agile, who thrive in a VUCA environment, and those who have the capability of acting effectively in unforeseen and unpredicted situations.
  • Agile processes – Require agility, flexibility, and a rapid change capability as an essential component in all current and new talent management processes and programs.
  • Training to solve unanticipated problems — training and development must create the capability to prepare employees and managers to identify and effectively handle previously unknown problems. A high volume of scenario training and simulations can make an employee more comfortable and confident when they encounter a completely new situation. With repetition, employees can eventually develop skills and their own processes for handling “brand-new” volatile and complex situations that are full of uncertainty and ambiguity.