“We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” – Karl Fisch
This quote succinctly sums up the mother of all challenges faced by higher education today. American higher education, just like businesses, operates in a VUCA world—one that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.
This time of great disruptive change is not necessarily a bad thing. According to futurist Bob Johansen, moving from the negative VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) to the positive VUCA or “VUCA Prime” (vision, understanding, clarity and agility) can lead to great outcomes.
Here are four tips to leadership in a disruptive VUCA Prime world:
- Diminish volatility by having “vision.” Leaders should craft and communicate a clear picture of an organization’s destination. Everyone needs to know where the journey is taking them.
- Replace uncertainty with “understanding.” Leaders should have the ability to “stop, look, and listen.” Effective leaders address uncertain situations by getting fresh perspectives and remaining flexible when testing solutions.
- Embrace and outwit complexity with “clarity.” Leaders should make “sense of the chaos” and have the ability to see and articulate an untangled future that others cannot yet see. Keeping things simple is welcome relief amid turbulent change.
- Match ambiguity with “agility.” Effective leaders are comfortable with rapid prototyping—the ability to create quick, early versions of innovations, with the expectation that early failure is often the key to later success. Make a decision. Fail fast. Succeed faster.
Leaders who walk through disruptive change with vision, understanding, clarity, and agility can truly shape a future with far reaching, positive effects. This is what we strive to teach our students, who are in the epicenter of a hyper-connected, ever-evolving world.
I invite you to share your thoughts on effectively navigating volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Have you seen or exercised your own VUCA PRIME?