If the news reports are correct, we’re living in a VUCA world: it’s full of volatility, unpredictability, chaos, and ambiguity. If they’re wrong, it serves me right for recently binging five seasons of Silicon Valley.

What is clear is the world in which we’re living is not completely stable. Consider 2017 alone: it was rife with market fluctuations, continued wars and struggles in many parts of the world, policy by Twitter, terror attacks, lack of certainty on our news and what is factual, and myriad other things leaving people to wonder ‘what can we count on?’

For those of us in business, the question is how we plan for the unpredictable? The answer is simple: plan on things being unpredictable. My apologies for being trite; sometimes the simplest answers are, indeed, the right ones.

To deal with this unpredictability, companies will make short-term bets, ready to change gears when the markets change. Investments get halted or slowed. The pull inside organizations often turns into getting as much information as completely possible, including market trend analysis, consumer indexing, historical trend extrapolation, and anything else that helps shed any further light on the darkness that comes with the unpredictable.

There’s likely no silver bullet, but there’s one attribute for employees that makes a real difference in a VUCA world. That attribute is agility. For those with a tech background—or those who also love the antics of Kumail Nanjiani, TJ Miller, and the gang—you know agile in software development. For developers, the terms point to the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaption of plans. Said differently agile gets people working, keeps them on their toes, and prepares everyone for changes of direction.

In this VUCA world, hiring people with agility is critical. Things are going to change. The best-laid plans will be disrupted. If you have people who have to stick with things, they are certainly going to be frustrated. That said, having people who don’t follow through doesn’t work… but they will likely only follow through if they are able to roll with the punches, stay flexible, and be ready to change direction as needed.

The team at Pied Piper has shown us one thing. If nothing else, they show us that agility to the market opportunity is far more important than sticking to the plan.

 

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