Running a Business in Turbulent Times

Shawnee Love   •   May 27, 2024

Running a business in Canada is extremely challenging today. Not to say it hasn’t always been a huge endeavour, but there are a lot of competing pressures happening in the world today which can make business leadership overwhelming. A term commonly used to describe these challenging times is VUCA.

VUCA unpacks as follows:

Volatile: Change is rapid and unpredictable

Uncertain: Present is not fully understood and future is even less predictable

Complex: There are many different and interconnected factors which have the potential to cause chaos and confusion

Ambiguous:  Current situation is unclear and/or vague

Many believe the occurrences of these factors are on the rise.

The single most important thing you can do to deal with VUCA times is to be proactive. Set the agenda for your business rather than having it set for you.

  1. To address volatility, create a vision for where you want to go and a plan to get there. Review and refresh it as needed, and remember to share it with your people.
  2. To address uncertainty, invest in data and analyze away. Do your SWOT. Leverage your strengths to address the threats. Are there opportunities? How can you seize them? How can you mitigate your weaknesses?
  3. To address complexity, communicate early, often, clearly, and consistently!! Have a communication plan for how to handle turbulence (or crises). Ensure you are using different methods, and reinforcing the key messages at every opportunity (i.e., Walk the talk).
  4. To address uncertainty, teambuild. Build connections, create belonging, and care, empathize, trust, respect, and value your people because those actions inoculate people and organizations against difficulties. It can be hard to focus on these efforts when chaos ensues but don’t lose heart. If the foundation is there, the simple act of sharing and collaborating on the plan to move forward can bring people together.

In summary, in VUCA times, people need a leader. Be present, communicate the vision and plan, work shoulder to shoulder on implementation, deal with issues directly and swiftly, and most importantly in my opinion, show you care.