Developing Future-Fit Capabilities

[Strathmore University Business School]


We live in a VUCA world is more apt a phrase than ever before. Volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous are four words embodying the environment in which businesses and leaders operate. The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), disruptive forces, multiple crises, changing business models, and so much more. So how does the business community and organisations develop and enhance a future-fit capability that will support their relevance and sustainability in an accelerating VUCA world?

Future Fit Capabilities

First, the business community and organisations should acknowledge that this VUCA world is inescapable. We cannot change the world, but we can manage ourselves, our teams, and our organisations to thrive in it. This is the first core component of developing a future-fit capability: management, are you a good manager, and can you manage your team and organisation? So, in order to be a great leader, you first need to be a great manager.

So how do we become great managers? Robert Johansen developed the VUCA Prime behavioural leadership framework to counteract each of the four elements of VUCA. Good managers need the ability to:

  • Counter volatility with Vision. Great managers accept and embrace change. They understand that the only constant is change and that there would be no change if there were no variables. Good managers are able to identify these variables, team values, and create a shared vision that allows them to navigate unsettled situations and react quickly to changes.
  • Meet uncertainty with Understanding. Great managers pause and listen and take in new perspectives. They are able to facilitate shared understanding in their teams and provoke new ways of thinking that enable new decision making and strategies that can create change in VUCA environments.
  • Manage complexity with Clarity. Great managers understand that there are no right solutions and answers in complex situations. Good managers facilitate conversations and processes that identify key priorities and outcomes that everyone agrees on. This enables team collaboration around decision-making in the most uncertain and complex situations.
  • Fight ambiguity with Agility. Great managers promote flexibility and are quick learners that are willing to adapt and change plans with agility. Good managers have the right-thinking skills that enable them and their teams to make high impact decisions in fast-changing situations.

This behavioural framework highlights the fundamentals of great management and managers – an essential future-fit capability required in this VUCA world: we need to improve our organisational ability to put our opportunities and challenges under management in our complex shifting world. We need to learn to rapidly make sense of this complexity, formulate executable high leverage decisions and manage people’s commitment to execute. We need to learn in ACTION while making a real difference in the world in a new social contract.

This programme offers universal management principles and reliable techniques that can be applied to any VUCA situation that needs to be managed, irrespective of age, situation, business acumen, or personal mastery.

We have spoken about management being a key future-fit capability. But can you be a good manager if you are not a good facilitator? Another key future-fit capability is facilitation. This programme will enable you to help yourself when you are struggling to manage complex situations. But complexity inevitably involves other people you need to collaborate with and who may need your help. By the end of this programme, you will understand the role of facilitation and how to help other people to help themselves. In other words, you will know how to facilitate collaboration in your teams and organisations.

So to be a great leader who can create change and success in a VUCA world and business environment you need to be a great manager, who can facilitate team and organisational collaboration with vision, understanding, clarity, and agility in problem-solving, decision making, and execution.

Future Fit Programme

In this programme you will learn how to answer these four questions every good manager is asking themselves:

  1. What is going on? You will learn how to enter a complex, “messy”, unstructured situation and rapidly make sense of it using a systemic approach. You will learn how to identify priorities and where to direct your precious energy for the most impact.
  2. What should we do? You will learn how to generate interesting new ideas that will enable you to rethink your mindset and make executable decisions with massive potential to bring about positive change.
  3. Who will commit to action? You will learn a reliable approach to project-managing change. You will learn how to execute strategy via a powerful commitment management process.
  4. What have we learnt? Because management is messy and we learn from experience, good managers need to be quick learners, so an action learning process is built into the methodology in order to accelerate experiential learning.

This programme enables organisations and businesses to develop and enhance future-fit capabilities that will support their relevance and sustainability in a VUCA world.

The programme intends to address the execution gap in complex unstable systems where technology is accelerating, and human factors are more important than ever.

Learn more about the Future Fit Programme here

Article by Matthieu Theron 

Facilitator & Business Development Systemic Stairway, South Africa 

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