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 ecosystems and the people working in our organizations. 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 past, hoping our structures and roles will somehow be relevant for the present and future work demands? Let's examine the four critical skills required to excel in the new VUCA world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

  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 critical thinking and problem-solving crisis 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


  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. Organizations have under-invested in human capital over the past 15 years to achieve short-term results. We now face the mid-long-term consequences of these former, short-term decisions regarding the current talent deficit. According to recent research, our workforce will not have the skills necessary to compete globally. In addition, 60% of employees fear becoming obsolete in the next few years. Remember, every action and human capital action introduces profound risks 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 all leaders and employees to 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! 


How do your people perform against the new VUCA skills? Assess how your organization measures up against the impact of VUCA on your business. Take our VUCA Stress Test.

Take the VUCA Stress Test  

Topics: Leadership, Organizational Alignment & Effectiveness

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

Joanne T. Flynn heads up the human capital advisory group, Phoenix Strategic Performance, Inc. Previously, she was a Managing Director with Phoenix Group International and was Vice President / Director of Global Learning and Development at Goldman, Sachs for nine years. Joanne works with organizations as they face global growth and competitive challenges. She works with her clients to be both externally focused and internally responsive. With her unique background, she aligns competitive strategic efforts with related internal organizational leadership challenges. With the benefit of her career-long focus, Joanne contributes the unique insight of aligning strategy to internal organizational structure and process. She focuses on human capital relative to strategic initiatives, accelerated business growth, value creation, and business development. Joanne holds a Master of Arts degree in Business Management from the University of Oklahoma. In addition, she holds a double degree major in History and German from St. Elizabeth University, as well as certificates from a variety of leading universities and professional training and development organizations. Joanne has recently published her latest book, Accelerating Business Success, The Human Asset Management Strategy.

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