Archiv der Kategorie: Communication

Communication consists of perception, thought models and communication behavior.

The dough – the ideal metaphor for VUCA

In the real world, we differentiate between solid, liquid, and gaseous substances. Our common sense suggests clear distinctions. However, many substances show behavior that is difficult to predict: for example, dough, which, depending on many influences, runs through your fingers unpredictably. All you can do is to react to its condition. Nowadays, the business world has to deal with conditions that behave similarly to these non-Newtonian fluids. These imponderables are summarized under the term VUCA.

Depending on the available data about the current circumstances and the future predictability, four VUCA areas can be identified, which apply to all temporal scopes and have their planning horizon.

  • Volatility
    Volatile, i.e., changeable and unstable, hints behaves in a way that is continuously changing. This makes it useless for the calculation of possible futures. Decisions can only be made based on unexpected, short-term variables. There is no other choice than to observe and invent solutions.
    Dealing skillfully with the volatility of decision factors requires a long-term framework and the availability of means and leeway.
  • Uncertainty
    Disclosures is uncertain if it is incomplete or cannot be verified. This makes the current situation unclear. Decisions are made without the decisive hints or at least based on vague criteria. The data must be substantiated and justified to improve the decision-making process.
    Uncertain situations can be handled using a short-term framework of definitions and by opening up new sources and perspectives.
  • Complexity
    Complex facts are unmanageable and unreliable because a flood of data is provided in parallel. The forecast is, therefore, fuzzy. Decisions suffer from competing, essential factors that must be considered. The structuring and categorization of hints contribute to improvement.
    A medium-term framework consisting of coherent models and the adaptation of the internal performance to external heterogeneity promotes better processing of complexity.
  • Ambiguity
    Ambiguous information is the basis for misunderstandings since it may be interpreted differently and is unprovable. Decisions are made on the basis of uncertain, vague conditions. The ambiguity is reduced by limited and defined messages.
    The determination of an ad hoc framework enables experiments beyond daily routines and rules. Many experiments lead to better results.

Bottom line: The assumption that we usually have sufficient hints should be a matter of the past with the flood of data. Full transparency does not exist. Reasons based on facts should be viewed critically from the beginning since decisions are based on randomly perceived facts. It may be irritating, but we should be aware that we cannot know and consider all parts and relationships. The resulting vagueness of the situation description ranges from ambiguity to uncertainty and complexity to volatility. This means that decisions ALWAYS take place based on uncertain or missing data – at the latest perceptible when a wrong decision is justified with the experts’ incorrect advice. According to the recipe book, experienced bakers do not just process their dough but mostly adapt to the dough’s respective nature. The different VUCA dimensions also offer starting points for responding to current circumstances and the behavior of the people involved. This makes the dough an ideal metaphor for VUCA.

The reticle – the ideal metaphor for aiming

Achieving or hitting a goal is difficult without an appropriate aiming device. It is not enough to be able to recognize and target a destination. It is also necessary to align with the existing conditions. When shooting over a long distance, this includes considering distance and crosswinds. At long range, a projectile is pulled downwards by gravity and possible down winds. At the same time, crosswinds cause the missile to be pushed to the side. Experienced shooters take the recognizable influences into account – as far as possible in advance and in any case based on the observation of the outcome. The shot is then readjusted accordingly. In business life, too, responsible people should not act without aiming.

The considerable aspects are similar for firing a cannon and in business.

  • Clear view
    In the interest of high accuracy, it is crucial to have the target in sight. Clear vision is made possible by sufficient light, low air opacity, and an appropriate magnification factor. Technical devices improve visibility additionally: e.g., night vision devices, thermal cameras, or radar equipment.
    The diverse aspects that determine business life rarely allow a clear view of the tasks – e.g., conspicuous roadblocks, clumsy division of labor, or unreasonable procedures.
    In almost all cases, an analysis of the current situation is required to reveal the weak points – e.g., evaluating the available data, interviewing staff and customers, or observing business routines.
    In those cases, the aiming devices show only a specific extract of the target area.
  • Aiming accuracy
    The reticle that enables orientation towards the target must be easily readable and hide the target only minimally. To better estimate deviations, there are the central target point and additional scales on the x- and y-axis, which enables the user to adapt to discrepancies.
    Since business activities must also cope with unexpected influences, the target devices should also allow for exact adjustment of the target – e.g., through different scenarios, actions, and participants.
    In any case, the target devices must allow exact adjustments.
  • Foreward-looking adjustment
    The further away a target is, the greater the influence on the projectile. For long-range shots, this is done by determining side effects: e.g., the distance, the target’s movement, the natural parabola of the projectile, and wind conditions. Experienced shooters use these factors to calculate a deviation from the central target point and align accordingly in the reticle.
    Also, business measures must always consider the influencing factors: e.g., limited resources, rigid processes, and IT and employee acceptance.
    In each case, unintended consequences have to be avoided by reaching the actual goal as precisely as possible.
  • Target Tracking
    The reticle not only serves to align with the target but also to observe whether the desired aim is reached. Depending on the distance, it takes time to see the effects. If the target is missed, a new target is adjusted in the reticle, and another shot is released.
    The business measures should also be tracked to readjust as soon as possible: e.g., involve additional employees and departments, extend tasks, or allocate more resources.
    It is always true that with the shot, the aiming does not end. The pursuit and adjustment of goals are essential for the achievement of objectives.

Bottom line: The reticle is a vital instrument for achieving the goals. It offers a clear view of the goal, creates the conditions for aiming accuracy, enables forward-looking adjustments and target tracking. Actions that occur without such an instrument have a low probability of hitting the target – unless somebody has so many means available that shehe can drop a burst of fire in the direction of the target, hoping that one bullet will hit it.
In the business world, initiatives need an appropriate aiming. Understanding the initial situation, including the existing influences, is crucial as the foresighted adaptation of actions to the determined conditions. Goal setting does not end with the release and start of the initiative but requires regular goal tracking, and afterward to adjust early on or set up further measures. The reticle of a riflescope is an excellent example of the tasks involved in aiming. This makes the reticle an ideal metaphor for aiming.