We probably hear VUCA more often than we would like at the moment. These four letters describe the extraordinary world in which we currently live. They stand for
- complexity and
Or in short: everything is constantly changing.
In a recent webinar of the German Association of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (BVMW) with DLA Piper and Blue West GmbH, I was introduced to the concept of VOPA. Four letters again, this time they stand for
- participation and
I found this highly interesting and looked into these four key terms more intensively:
When everything is constantly changing, meaning the VUCA concept is coherent, it helps to have as much knowledge and experience as possible to illuminate possible scenarios and alternative solutions. And to do so as quickly as possible. The best way to do this is through a high level of networking with a wide variety of people.
A good example of this are all projects where people work together on an idea via crowd-sourcing. Examples are open innovation, open source, crowd knowledge sourcing. Probably the best-known example is Wikipedia. The entries are created by users who also take over quality control.
So tick the box behind networking.
If you exchange ideas with people from different horizons and backgrounds, you will always come up with ideas and approaches that you would not have thought of yourself. Instead of reacting with the almost human defence à la “not invented here”, i.e. “not my idea, therefore bad!”, one should remain curious and rather react with: “Interesting, tell me more about it!
So far, I have been able to observe several times how the use of Design Thinking promoted openness. Here, the natural defence mechanism against new ideas is bypassed through playfulness. In addition, the use of completely unfamiliar tools (such as modelling clay, Lego, felt, etc.) stimulates completely different brain cells, which in turn promotes creativity.
So tick the box behind openness.
Isn’t it enough to exchange ideas with as many people as possible and remain open to the different approaches? What function do participation and agility still have then?
Participation and agility
In my opinion, participation and agility have a double role in this concept. On the one hand, they draw attention to the fact that one should leave one’s own silo when finding solutions and remain in conversation and work together with all functions and ranks. After all, it is a fundamental idea of agility to really listen to everyone who has something to say on the topic, no matter what their current function is.
Participation and agility also play a big role in the implementation of a jointly developed solution. It is the idea to involve everyone who can take on tasks. Here, too, it is important that the person who knows the most about the solution takes a leading role in implementing.
I was once able to witness a quite astonishing change in a company. We had dared to subject the entire management team (i.e. everyone who had a C in their title) to ‘reverse mentoring’ by so-called ‘young high potentials’. The young people accompanied the leader over several days and gave detailed feedback afterwards. The openness with which the managers received the feedback was extremely impressive. Equally impressive were the observations the young people made. Together they then discussed how the resulting suggestions for improvement could be implemented. As there were not only personal changes but also very good improvement ideas for the business process, the young people were also able to actively participate in this immediately.
So double tick in the boxes behind participation and agility.
If it helps to work with four-letter acronyms, VOPA is a good answer to VUCA. If you prefer to work with wisdom, you can put VOPA into words like this: When everything is constantly changing, involve as many people as possible in the search for a solution. Then have the solution implemented by the person or persons who understand the most about it.
I will be happy to explain how you can organise this in your company in a personal meeting!