Monday, September 29, 2008

Resilient Thinking: Leading in a world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity

“Its not what happens to you in life. Its how you react to what happens to you that makes the difference.”

One of the biggest challenges a leader faces today is learning to live with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity despite an increasing oversupply of information. This makes decision making more difficult and problematic than ever before. How can we deal with this growing confusion in our world?

Using Resilient Thinking we can turn around the above with a combination of Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility. The 4 antidotes to Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity work like this:

Volatility Yields to Vision:
Vision means having a clear intent, a clear direction for your actions. Vision is much more important than foresight since it seeks to create a future, not just study the future. With clear vision, creative space opens for innovation within the parameters you specify. A bold vision sees beyond volatility, with a calm perspective not trapped by assumptions of the present.

Uncertainty Yields to Understanding:
Listening leads to understanding, which is the basis for trust. You must learn to listen carefully without judging too soon. Today’s world creates urgency to act quickly, but sometimes it is a false sense of urgency. The best leaders have the presence and calm inquisitiveness to listen before talking.

Complexity Yields to Clarity:
Leaders must help others to make sense of complexity. Today’s world rewards clarity because people are so confused that they grasp at anything that helps them to make sense out of the chaos. The thoughtful leader’s quest is to be both clear and accurate, simple without being simplistic.

Ambiguity Yields to Agility:
Leaders cannot surrender to ambiguity; that would lead to paralysis and confusion. Rather, they must learn how to be agile and respond to attack and a continually changing business environment. Today’s world rewards networks because they are agile, while it punishes the rigidity of command/control hierarchies.

How can Leaders embed these four values into all levels of their organizations? It starts with applying the Foresight -> Insight -> Action Cycle which will be the subject of a future blog post.

*Based on ideas from the book: “Get There Early. Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present” by Bob Johansen, publisher by Berrett-Koehler, 2007
Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present

1 comment:

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