What is VUCA?
VUCA is a trendy concept in today’s business environment and strategic leadership sphere. According to Kinsinger and Walch, the VUCA acronym is credited to the U.S Army when they described the Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity that characterized the world after the Cold War. Currently in business climate, the concept is becoming more relevant than ever, as indeed the world has unpredictably become more complex with the upsurge in technology and social media.
Social Media in VUCA age
The world we live in today has witnessed unprecedented events through the social media evolution. One of the major events that social media played a relevant role during this VUCA age is the Brexit. Dr. Sunnie Gilles relates the origin of Brexit with the self-immolation of the young Tunisian fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi who set himself ablaze on December 17, 2010 due to attempted police exploitation. This incident was greeted with viral pictures and videos circulating on social media, protests and demonstrations in Arab countries that eventually culminated into civil war in Syria.
There was then great public discontent over refugees created by the civil war and the financial disparity among countries of European Union, which led to the now known Brexit referendum. The mobile phone today is like a lighter in the hands of millions of people while the social media is the petrol which goes viral like a wild fire when ignited. However, it is important to state that the social media provides both positive and negative complexities. Therefore, effective leaders should try to create positive complexity and at same time put a check on the negatives.
Creating positive complexities in VUCA age
Most challenges come with great opportunities for change. In today’s VUCA business world, change is inevitable as organizations and individuals do not operate in vacuum. Organizations that have a change agent as a leader should create positive complexities through change management Dr. Sunnie Gilles has identified four (4) things that can be
done to achieve the change: Move from hierarchy to self-organization. Drive decisions from the lower edge of the organization, where information is the freshest and most salient: the security personnel, customer service officers, call centers and relationship managers should be involved.
- Move from protecting information to democratization of information. To empower employees to make decisions, then make communication frictionless. Conduct all-hands meetings to get useful information straight from the horse’s mouth.
- Speed up interactions. Fast-track the speed of interaction as much as possible. In the VUCA age, speed matters more than perfection. Set an expectation for everyone to answer emails within a couple of hours for quick ones and by the end of the day for long ones.
- Use simple rules to make quick decisions, rather than perfect analyses. Keep a policy document as simple as possible.
- Recommendations for Audit Executives in VUCA age
What it then means for Audit Executives is that they should “IMPROVE” on their control functions as follows:
Introduce weekly general meetings in business units and departments. All staff (professional and non-professional)
must participate from start to end without any discrimination. Every staff must be seen as important to the organization’s survival.
Make all non-sensitive information available to every staff. Official phone numbers and email addresses of contact centres, branch managers and heads of departments should be available to support staff such as security personnel.
- Provide a clearly defined responsible social media policy. Employees should be reminded as often as possible that
the customer remains the king and his opinions must be respected at all times, even in the social media space.
- Review hard controls but reward soft controls. Core values, integrity and ethics must be promoted and rewarded in the
organization. Social media appreciates these as age-long virtues of all generations.
- Ownership spirit is key, and staff must be aware that customer service is everybody’s responsibility. Provide information on current e-fraud techniques and train staff on basic skills in handling of customer’s complaints 24/7, which may include simply giving out a Contact Centre’s phone number or email to a complainant.
Verifiable evidences must be available in disciplinary procedures. Fairness and justice should prevail. Before you fire
that staff unjustly without a convincing evidence of wrong doing, think social media.
- Every rule must not be written. Information that can be successfully disseminated without writing should not be written. Before you put that policy, query or memo in writing, think social media.