Strategic Human Capital Insights

4 Critical Skills Required to Excel in the VUCA World

Today, we are right in the vortex of a VUCA world. We are living in a perfect storm where the tensions and demands of our changing external environment on many levels are creating real pressures on our internal ecosystem and the people working in our organization. Old structures and roles have expired and are "past their sell-by-date." To truly embrace the new VUCA work reality, it’s time to rethink all the old organizational structures and roles. It’s easy to see when our food has expired, but are we quite as rigorous when evaluating if our structures and roles have expired as well? Are we clinging to the old, hoping they will somehow be relevant for the present and future work demands? Let's examine the 4 critical skills that are required to excel in the new VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world.

  1. Business Acumen: Understanding the Business of the Business 

    Your employees need to fully understand your business as it performs in the marketplace. If they do not, you cannot expect them to stay relevant and deliver forward-focused, value-added services and productivity. 
  1. Critical Thinking at the Strategic Level, Problem Identification & Accelerated Decision Making  

    Organizations are experiencing a crisis in critical thinking and problem solving at the mid to senior levels. Employees are so busy working and putting out near-term fires, there is no time to think about the bigger question, “So what is causing the fires and how do we prevent them from starting in the future?”  We are great at ‘hose management’, but what is the risk when the hose breaks?

Take the VUCA Stress Test to assess how your organization measures up against  the impact of VUCA to your business


  1. Short, Medium and Long-term Planning with Complex Consequence Analysis  & Strategic Risk Management (for Every Function)

    Every action an organization takes will have implications for the short, medium and long term. To achieve short-term results, organizations have under invested in human capital over the past 15 years. We are now facing the mid – long-term consequences of these former, short-term decisions in the current talent deficit.  According to recent research, by 2020 our workforce will not have the skills necessary to compete globally.  In addition, 60% of employees fear they will become obsolete in the next few years. Remember, every action and, in particular human capital actions, introduces profound risk and consequences.
  1. Navigating the Horizontal Matrix Structure, Identifying Organizational and Functional Interdependencies & Complex Communication Skills

    To be responsive to change, hierarchical organizational structures will need to evolve into multifunctional matrix organizations.  This new work environment will require that all leaders and employees understand the complexities of working in these sophisticated, flat and unstructured organizations.  When matrix structures work well, the results can be extraordinary.  When they don’t work, they create chaos.  Your choice! 


ow do your people perform against the new VUCA skills? Start to assess how your organization measures up against the impact of VUCA to your business. Take our helpful VUCA Stress Test today.

Take the VUCA Stress Test  

Topics: Leadership, Organizational Alignment & Effectiveness

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

In 2014, Joanne Flynn founded Phoenix Strategic Performance, a strategic human capital advisory firm. Prior to this, Joanne was Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 10 years responsible for global learning and development. She then led the consulting practice of Phoenix Group International, a consulting firm specializing in global financial service. Joanne is now taking best practices from the people-intensive financial services industry and adapting those best practices to startup and growth businesses. She is a thought leader in the areas of strategic organizational alignment, organizational agility, human capital gap analysis, leadership challenges for the new workplace and transformation leadership.

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