Allies and enemies in a VUCA world

Lately, there is lot’s of talk about VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) in our digital world. At CIONET, we have adressed this topic already in 2014 at our international annual conference CIO CITY in Brussels, where we gathered CIOs and IT Leaders from many European Countries.

During his Dinner Keynote, former Dutch F16 Fighter Jet Pilot Dré Kraak shared with us, that for fighter pilots, VUCA is a well known phenomenon:

“When I flew an F16 in Bosnia and Kosovo, we never knew what was coming when we took off. Would we be attacked? By what means? By how many other planes? We had no clue, but we had one mission: bring the plane in safely by the end of the flight. Now how VUCA is that?

With the digital revolution starting to have an impact on all of us, (can you imagine what the future will look like?) with rapidly evolving disruptive technologies and new agile business models eliminating existing ones, VUCA is a phenomenon we are facing now both in our business as well as private lives on a daily basis. And with all these digital transformations happening with extreme high clock speed, there is no way of predicting what will happen next:

Using the analogy of a fighter pilot, the only thing you know as a business leader is: You don’t want to crash.

At the same venue, Peter Hinssen, Chairman and co-founder of nexxworks reflected on what VUCA means for the internal organization of a company. Giving the audience an insight on the topic of his book ‘The Network Always Wins’, he urges organizations to become connected companies, where information flows freely and where the internal clock speed of an organization works in sync with the clock speed of the external world.

Is there one clear answer to the threats posed by a VUCA world?

No there is not, and as Nils Fonstad, former Associate Director of INSEAD eLab and now Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Information Systems Research (MIT CISR) stated at CIO CITY 2014, agility depends on your platforms and processes, and above all: Organizations need a digital culture and digital leaders.

And there’s no reason why this leadership role could not be fulfilled by the CIO.

After all, we can’t predict the future, but we can create it.

This post, which was published first on LinkedIn Pulse on Aug 22nd, 2016 is a summary of a more detailed post published on the CIONET Blog in July, 2014 and is hopefully a stimulant to innovative CIOs to not give up as suggested in my post from December 2015, called “Die innovativsten CIOs geben auf”.

If you are an ambitious CIO, you should join your more than 6.000 international peers from 24 countries and become a member of CIONET, the leading learning and networking community for CIOs. German CIOs can sign in here for free.

“Save the date” for CIO CITY 2017 on June 26th and 27th, 2017 in Amsterdam, where we will go live in 307 Days !