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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Responding Effectively to V.U.C.A – “Hey, it’s crazy out there!”

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


December 12, 2016

Understanding V.U.C.A. (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) is part of living in an efficacious space in challenging times. A second consideration is how to be empowered in responding to the conditions which seem uncontrollable.

Lemoine and Bennett offer specific suggestions for being strategic with each condition.

Volatility requires investing in preparedness. For educators, this means providing professional development and coaching in order to respond to changing conditions.

Uncertainty means attending to information development. Personnel should be charged with seeking information and effectively sharing it and advocating for possible structural changes to respond to the uncertainty. This might mean creating a new class, reassigning staff, or revising current practices based on the most current information.

Complexity means resourcing the system for maximum flexibility. Alternative ways of working must be considered. Operating assumptions must be challenged. The three focusing questions of Adaptive Schools are critical: Who are we? Why are we doing this?

Why are we doing this, this way and whose needs are being served?

Ambiguity can only be powerfully addressed through experimentation. When variables are unknown, systems look at variables they have control of and hypothesize how to best employ their resources. Data is collected on experiments and adjustments are made in response to findings.

As you move toward some time away from work, reflect on how you are personally dealing with V.U.C.A. How might you respond more effectively in the New Year? What might be some questions you might ask to assist others with these challenges?

Source: Bennett, N. & Lemoine, G. J. “What VUCA really means for you,” Harvard Business Review. January-February, 2014.

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