Is your business life ‘Volatile’?
Well don’t panic, you are certainly not alone, but you should accept that you are part the ‘VUCA’ world today!
V = Volatility: the nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.
Meaning: Liable to change rapidly and unpredictably, especially for the worse.
In a Forbes article ‘What Does VUCA Really Mean?’ Jeroen Kraaijenbrink writes: ‘Volatility refers to the speed of change in an industry, market or the world in general. It is associated with fluctuations in demand, turbulence and short time to markets and it is well-documented in the literature on industry dynamism. The more volatile the world is, the more and faster things change’.
The key here is speed of change and the variability of that change.
The days of nice 3, 4, 5-year plans are long, long gone, yes, there might be some long-term strategy associated to a vision but not at a detailed planning level. The days of starting a project or program and having a clear view of the business landscape that you have to lead that change across is also long gone. Who knows what might suddenly be needed by the organisation? Change in speed and direction driven by competitors, by the market, by the government, even by the people?
Despite the dictionary meaning of ‘Liable to change rapidly and unpredictably, especially for the worse’ such volatility should not be seen as a bad thing and that it automatically leads to a ‘worse’ situation. Instead that volatility, and associated change, is caused by a real need. It should also be considered that only not keeping pace with the volatile demand is what causes any business situation to worsen.
And so, the question has to be ‘How can we prepare ourselves to move at the speed required and to be flexible in our approach in order to meet volatility with stability?’.
Understanding the dynamics of change is a great start. What is it that makes change happen, what or who initiates this, and who or how can you overlay that change of the current business activities – in a rapid and realistic manner?
Having a change orientated culture and people ready to behave in a collaborative and business agile way is another.
Achieving true stability is probably beyond the possible in the modern business day but accepting a degree of volatility as the ‘norm’ is a very good way to view the world as relatively ‘stable.
Join myself and Neil Derbyshire from Clarizen on the morning of 5th December where we will address the 4 main challenges of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) and how working in a business agile mind-set can bring the rewards of stability, certainty, simplicity and clarity to your day-to-day work.
Join this free webinar to learn first-hand how:
1. VUCA can be used as a catalyst to bringing change in your day-to-day world
2. How a business agile mind-set will help bring stability, certainty, simplicity and clarity to your role
3. How technology can help you overcome challenges in a VUCA world
4. What can businesses do today to prepare for challenges in the future
Register your interest today to avoid VUCA now and in the future!
Let’s Un-VUCA the VUCA world!
Peter Taylor is a change expert who has advised many other organisations on Change and Project strategy.
He is also the author of the number 1 bestselling project management book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’.
More information can be found at www.thelazyprojectmanager.com
There is that famous scene in Monty Python and The Life of Brian where the rebels are demanding action against the oppressive Romans and ask the question ‘What did the Romans ever do for us?’- The answers came back over and over again as the rebels listed the many things that the Romans brought with them … medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health. So, quite a lot!
I sometimes hear of project management and project managers being challenged in much the same way … ‘what has project management done for us (the organisation)?’ The thinking presumably goes that there are projects but if the business keeps doing projects then they become (presumably) less unusual and less risky and therefore they don’t need this elite band of project managers to constantly be ‘on the case’. Or perhaps it I less a matter of thinking and more a matter of memory loss, forgetting what project based business life was like before project management was in place and making a real difference.
There are two ways of looking at this, or answering the challenge. One is to consider what would business life be like without project management in place. Assuming that projects continue to get commissioned then you might hear a few executives mumbling things like:
‘Our stakeholders really love us, so they don't care if their projects are late and don't work.’
‘We figure it's more profitable to have 50% overruns than to spend 15% on project management to prevent them.’
And I am sure you have come across the classic:
‘Project management is too expensive… on top of the all the rest of the project costs’
The real question that needs to be put on the table to answer these challenges is ‘What is the cost of failure of this project?’ balanced by ‘What, therefore, is the value of de-risking that project by investing a relatively small number of days of project management?’
And that is the number one answer to ‘What has project management done for us?’ – Project management has developed a skill and a process and a capability, combined with a level of experience and ingenuity to make that de-risking investment ‘a relatively small number of days’. In other words what project management does is safe-guard project investment in a very attractive and cost-positive way.
But, and this is critical to the persuasiveness of the argument for project management, it is needed to have up to date ‘proof’ of the work that project managers do and the value that they oversee the delivery of.
And this is the second way of answering this challenge, to look at the levels of success that project management achieves.
Reports such as PMI’s Pulse of the Profession™ The High Cost of Low Performance can really help here. Pulse Report 2013
The ‘What did the project managers ever do for us’ syndrome is recognised in the report ‘…this year’s Pulse of the Profession™ finds that organizations undervalue project management and put inadequate focus on talent development. Only about half of respondents (54 percent) say their organizations fully understand the value of project management’.
But is goes on to clearly lay out what sets high-performing organizations apart and that is:
Supporting this argument for project management are some real ‘eye opening’ statistics of project success value delivered by organisations that invest in project management – go check them out for yourself, it makes satisfying reading.
And the PMI Pulse report concludes with a sobering statement ‘Organizations that have poor project success rates may be forced to manage their projects reactively by tightening deadlines and cutting budgets to achieve their intended results’ and this will only mean less projects, less success, less change delivered, and fewer strategic achievements.
Conversely the same conclusion states ‘Investing in strong, effective project management within an organization will increase project performance. Ultimately, high-performing organizations that have strong project management can create efficiencies; improve alignment with organizational strategies…’.
I think that project management has done a great deal for everyone, the Romans knew a thing or two about project management and look at all that they achieved.