Our world is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. We need to understand how these four words function and what they mean. Within them, we can find a new world of solutions to complex problems.
Does agility truly serve as a help in our world? Is Scrum a framework that could help with this issue? Is it genuinely considered an agile framework that could assist us?
As we already know, the term Scrum or Agile/Agile Methods is very popular nowadays, where it is applied to most projects to manage their complexity and find flexibility in managing them in the best possible way. Many companies use these terms for their management, and it is very different from the traditional way that used to be known as “Waterfall”.
This new framework has become very popular due to its low failure rate. In 2015, according to statistics, the failure percentage of the old method was around 30%, but in the Scrum world, only 9% of projects fail, and 40% are successful. Over time, we have moved to a world where everything operates rapidly and agilely, exponentially and relatively volatile, including today’s new technologies. Within this new complex and uncertain world, full of difficulties, is where VUCA was born, which has been quite successful in the business world.
VUCA stands for (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) and emerged at the end of the Cold War in a very changing world. A clear example, nowadays was the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, where there was a lot of uncertainty, complexity, some chaos, and practically the way of working and operating of many companies, their processes, and norms had to change. In a world that changes a lot and really fast, we have the famous Scrum framework and the popular new terminology, Agile, to make new decisions and quick solutions to any situation.
What VUCA proposes is an optimal way of making decisions based on each of its initials and its meaning. An ambiguous situation could arise where a high level of volatility or uncertainty is usually present; these situations do not usually occur alone, although it is not absolutely necessary for it to be so. A situation can be complex, but not volatile or uncertain.
While it is essential to know, analyze, and interpret the patterns and trends of our environment, we must not forget that sometimes there are events or situations that can change the course and distort predefined behaviors, systems, processes, and structures. Today we have this framework, with sophisticated analytical methods that allow us to develop powerfully and predictively, but without forgetting that consideration is given to the existence and prevalence of highly changing contexts and environments. That is why these new terms, new working methods, and new agile frameworks like Scrum emerge.
In a VUCA world, uncertainty can lead us to paralysis, but this situation is paradoxical in the age of knowledge, where we have a vast amount of information just a click away. However, we live with great ignorance, due to different and diverse forces of the environment that can trigger a series of contexts that lead to unforeseen outcomes.
We cannot leave complexity behind either, where it is difficult to have control over everything and where there is significant exposure and vulnerability to diverse factors that somehow escape our hands and capacity to act but impact us equally.
The ability for VUCA leadership in strategic and operational terms depends on a well-developed mindset to understand the circumstances of our world and to contribute to sustainability in a complex world.
Today, we have the opportunity to learn concepts like agility, resilience, and adaptability that are increasingly common in corporate language. But the reality is that if we do not know what we are facing, it is difficult to generate an appropriate strategy that responds to these adverse circumstances sustainably. In such situations, it is important, even imperative, to be empathetic and generate more closeness and understanding of the reality of future clients, suppliers, colleagues, and distribution channels, mapping who integrates and impacts each value chain.
By: Cindy Gómez