VUCA Forever.

I’ve heard several speakers describe how we now live in a “VUCA” world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. But to my mind, the idea that this is something new is flawed thinking, indeed the term VUCA was first coined in 1987, over 30 years ago.

Throughout my whole career, and yours whatever its length to date, we’ve experienced a constant state of VUCA and it would be dangerous to treat it as something temporary, VUCA is normal and has been for decades.

Many commentators suggest that estate agency is currently undergoing a period of radical change, and indeed it is, but this change is now to be expected. Whether it be new technologies, social changes, economic drivers, the political climate or a myriad of other factors; every business in the sector will not survive for very long unless it’s constantly evolving and adapting. And delaying to adapt, whether because of being comfortable and feeling artificially secure, failing to look ahead, fear of the unknown, resistance to change, harking back to “the good old days”, (whatever they were), or something else, is perhaps far more dangerous than taking the plunge into the unknown.

I’ve acquired, from several sources, a number of tools to help our Members embrace change and to mitigate some or all of the risk – and here’s one that works particularly well.

Forward – Back

A common approach to planning is to get really clear about where the business is right now, perhaps using a SWOT analysis, and then mapping out the next steps. Some years ago, my late friend and coach, Ed Percival, introduced me to the idea that I’ve labelled, “Future-Back”. This reverses convention by starting out with a picture of a compelling future and then asking, “what’s the final thing we will need to do before we achieve that, what will be the last step?”

At first this can be challenging, but the effort is worthwhile as by repeating the question it allows each significant milestone to be identified right back to the here and now. My experience is that in many companies who have created a future picture, the vision if you like that term, it often seems out of touch, unachievable, a lofty ideal but probably not realistic and consequently isn’t properly acted on or gets sidetracked by events. Future-Back combines both the clarity of destination and the significant moments along the route – which is useful in a VUCA world.

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