The Growth of Project Complexity in a VUCA World
By Dr. Harold Kerzner, Ph.D.
In the ever-changing world that we now live and work in, disruption is as great as it has ever been, meaning we are seeing all aspects of VUCA within our own environments.
Currently, the biggest item on top of any CEO’s to-do list is creating, shaping and transforming their organization’s culture to be more responsive to change. CEOs talk about the values of integrity, trust, empowerment and leader development as essential within the new damaging environment of VUCA Management.
This paper will guide you through the hazards of working within this ever-changing environment to understand how to prepare, how to manage the impact of the continuing change and how to safely negotiate a passage out again.
Today, there is nowhere to go where you can avoid the VUCA environment. VUCA is forcing leaders and decision-makers to become managers of change. Making long-term decisions in an environment that has an abundance of complexity and can change continuously is difficult. This will require managers at all levels, including project managers, to develop new skills necessitated by the VUCA environment and to learn how to think non-linearly in order to manage complexity.
We all seem to agree that the world in which we live is dictated by VUCA, but there still exists confusion on the meaning of the components of VUCA. Some companies prefer to look at just one or two components, such as volatility and complexity, and downplay or avoid considering uncertainty and ambiguity. The application and definition of the components of VUCA are therefore industry or even company specific.
There are several interpretations and applications for VUCA and its components. The VUCA environment can be looked at on a global basis or just in the environment of how one company competes and makes decisions. The consensus belief is that all companies in the future must plan on how to compete and survive in a VUCA environment regardless of the industry.
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We will demonstrate how the project professionals can reinforce these values through personal example and by ensuring they cascade throughout the organization. By delivering this change through effective leadership, this will help to shape and reinforce the future business culture.
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Harold Kerzner (M.S., Ph.D., Engineering, and M.B.A) is IIL’s Senior Executive Director for Project Management. He is a globally recognized expert on project management and strategic planning, and the author of many best-selling textbooks. His latest book is Innovation Project Management: Methods, Case Studies, and Tools for Managing Innovation Projects (Wiley, 2019).