As leaders, we are faced with an undeniably troubling task: how do we move forward and navigate profitable futures, while maintaining morale and integrity during these VUCA times (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity). All the rulebooks and studies we’ve followed in the past are out the window! We’re shifting into the unknown in business, and every aspect of our lives.
By applying a Whole Brain Foresight approach to every issue we face now and into the future, we can make better sense of what is happening around us. We can come up with fresh strategies that respond to the changing marketplace, the increasingly diverse workforce, and the new economic realities of staying in business. The critical through-line is to stay ahead of the curve of change and the nuances of emerging futures.
Although this might seem like an impossible task, I will guide you through it. Over the years it has become clear to me that each of us has the capacity to be a visionary leader, even in our VUCA times. I’ve also come to realize that to truly lead as a visionary, it’s necessary to also become an Everyday Futurist™. This is a term I coined decades ago that refers to a person who learns to read the future, not by reading tea leaves, but by studying trends and crafting possible alternative scenarios and responses to them.
A truth I learned a long time ago is that our “emergence comes out of emergency.” That’s true of everyone and everything. Think about it; When have you grown the most? When has your career, business, or nonprofit organization taken its greatest leaps forward?
The Covid-19 pandemic, and subsequent “Great Resignation,” are showing us what’s really important in life. We want to leave behind toxic work environments and form deeper connections in our communities. We also want to correct all the -isms in our society, especially in the workplace! Businesses that embrace flexible work schedules—including job sharing, telecommuting, and shorter work weeks can help turn our workplaces into modern hybrid spaces the VUCA employee requires. This will also shift your workplace into age-friendly spaces, tapping into the market of 40+ workers (that are still being looked over).
These changes can lead to more profit, happier and more productive employees, and improved products and services for the market of the future. As a leader in your organization, you have the opportunity to create win-win situations for the company or your nonprofit, and the people you lead and those you serve.
Among all generations, diversity and work-life balance are instrumental to a bright future. The new business dynamic has shifted from a time-tested, product-centered one to a pragmatic, employee and customer-centered one. Now is the time to leverage change to our advantage, to reinvent ourselves and our world through innovative and conscious businesses that hit the Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet, Profit (coined by business author John Elkington in 1994).
Continue to apply Whole Brain Foresight—in your work, don’t fear the change ahead, and ensure that you’re pragmatic with your leadership as an Everyday Futurist™. These VUCA times are disruptive, but you can be visionary!