This morning's San Francisco Chronicle featured a story in remembrance of the Jonestown massacres thirty years ago. In the front page article, Congresswoman Jackie Spier recalls her trip to Jonestown with Congressman Leo Ryan . For the past several weeks, the daily financial news has been grimmer and grimmer. Business leaders are faced with rising costs, uncertain revenue projections, and a shortfall of cash and credit.
I talked about the volatility, uncertainty, and complexity in previous posts. In this post I discuss ambiguity, the fourth element of VUCA. In my executive coaching practice, I have encountered business leaders who have varying degrees of comfort with ambiguity. When things are ambiguous, they are not clear. Sometimes the situation itself is unclear. Sometimes the problem and/or solution are both unclear. Often, the very business environment itself is ambiguous. When leaders are not clear about what a particular event or situation means, they become frozen and cannot make decisions. For instance, in our current financial environment, we know that the Federal government has released funds to banks. What is unclear right now is how those funds will be disbursed, or if they will be disbursed, the level of risk, and if the stimulus packages will even work.
More than ever, not everything is knowable to an organization’s leaders. Owen Jacobs, who I referred to in yesterday’s post, argues that leaders may have all of the important elements of a situation but may not be able to connect all of the dots. The information may be coming from the outside environment, or within the organization. Therefore, in order to help their organizations connect the dots, leaders need to design their organizations so that information can more easily turn into knowledge, and that knowledge can be acted upon quickly.
In yesterday's post, I made reference to the term VUCA. VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Executive leaders have been increasingly challenged with VUCA, but in today's market, more so than ever. In the past six weeks, it feels like we have been collectively on an “E” ticket ride, although not at Disneyland! As the stock market has risen and fallen at dizzying levels, and with the credit markets in a vise, we have held our collective breaths. The business leaders I have spoken to or visited are struggling to make sense of the situation. Today, I will address the “V” in volatility.
Welcome! I have been meaning to write a blog for a long time. As I have watched the financial markets spin out of control, and my leadership clients express true concern about their futures, I could hold off no longer. I have been in the field of leadership and organizational development for a number of years. I am in this field because I am passionately committed to igniting leadership potential and organizational transformation. Six years ago, I decided to up my game by entering a doctoral program. I graduated with my Ph.D. in March, 2007. Through that intense process, combined with more than twenty-five years working with leaders in a multitude of corporations, small, medium, and large, I feel uniquely equipped to lend my voice to these troubled times.