The acronym VUCA comes from military vocabulary and stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous situation. Originating in the late 1990’s the term has infiltrated corporate and government organisations used primarily to generate emerging ideas and solutions in strategic planning.
However, whilst this sounds great for consultants selling fear-mongering it does not encapsulate the golden era of change that we live in. Of course there is volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. That’s life! But we actually live in an exciting, vibrant and incredible time of change. Leaders have never been more privileged than what they are today and they have a clean sheet of paper to re-imagine every aspect of business. With privilege comes responsibility too. Failure to change means loss of shareholder confidence, loss of position, loss of customers, loss of jobs etc.
The VUCA interpretation misses the point, it generates a concentration of developing strategies aimed at reducing the volatility and getting back to normality. When rather the waves of change need to be ridden and seen as an adventure in the quest to create a vibrant, unreal, crazy and awesome world. This different take on the word VUCA is one I heard Global CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi Kevin Roberts talk about. It’s a brilliant spin on the acronym and changes the strategic mindset to one that seeks new opportunities and challenges established paradigms.
The next time you are in a strategy session examining the opportunities and threats, explore how your organisation can contribute to and benefit from a VIBRANT, UNREAL, CRAZY and AWESOME world. This is the VUCA world leaders should focus on creating.
Below is a speech Kevin Roberts gave on the term VUCA and how the word can be used to think about how we create a better world for everyone
It’s a VUCA world. Our job as creative leaders is to turn a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, into one that is vibrant, unreal, crazy and astounding.
Our job is to make lives a little bit or whole lot better, and to make life better. And to win for our clients and our brands and our customers. FIAP celebrates the winners. ESPN Coach of the Century Vince Lombardi said, winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.
Lombardi also said:
“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour – his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear – is that moment when he has to work his heart out in a good cause and he’s exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”
Quite the challenge.
I have seven ideas to help you power to the next level, and create a better world for everyone.
IDEA #1: WIN IN THE AGE OF NOW
A revolution is raging, and revolutions start with language. The NEW is over. New is gone and it took marketing with it. Welcome to the Age of NOW, the time of power to the people, of 6.8 billion “screenagers” who are always-on, instantly-demanding, immediately-sharing, if we feel loved!
Psychology says people are happiest focusing on now, not dwelling on past regrets or daydreaming.
To win we must deliver magic in the moment. The Age of Now rewards a thrill a minute, with lightening word of mouse. The Now is, for example:
- 4,000 tweets per second during Super Bowl
- Google going instant with search-as-you-type
- Burberry streaming its runway show live in 3D
The Now plays out in a new Economy, a soft grid of electric moments, where creativity is the entry point, and consumer is curator.
ERA OF NEW AGE OF NOW Attention Participation Inform Inspire Interruption Interaction Return on Investment Return on Involvement Local Global Pumping Markets Creating Movements
Three questions matter.
1. Do I want to see it again?
2. Do I want to share it?
3. Do I want to improve it?
IDEA #2: WIN WITH PURPOSE
The most powerful connection is not just benefit-driven. It is purpose-inspired, which is about “consumer as hero” not “product as hero.”
The major players turn classic leadership into Inspirational leadership. P&G beams out purpose with “Touching lives, improving life.” Nike created high performance 2010 World Cup jerseys from plastic bottles found in landfills, a creative commitment.
Purpose-inspired takes you from “price-focused” product to “priceless” experience, from satisfaction to exhilaration, answering the burning question on consumer lips. “How will you improve my life?”
People want to be part something bigger themselves, from Apple’s design revolution … to your local team.
IDEA #3: WIN WITH EMOTION
In the moment, emotion matters more than ever. The entire human future is being created out of emotion, emotional health, happiness, partnership, experience, inclusion, fun and joy.
Emotion is Arcade Fire’s music video “We Use to Wait For It,” integrating Google Maps and Street View, to let you make the song about where you grew up.
Emotion is how people decide, how to start conversations and rouse movements. Emotion is the key to better decisions, to stronger value, to higher margins and profit.
In the Now, emotion is king. Donald Calne said “Reason leads to conclusions, emotion leads to action.”
IDEA #4: WIN WITH LOVE
Love is our deepest emotion, a feeling Latin people get like no other. “Love” is beyond “like”, a world beyond brands reached through creative leadership.
- Brands are owned by management, marketers and stockholders. Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.
- Brands are built on Respect. Lovemarks are created out of Respect and Love.
- Brands build Loyalty for a Reason. Lovemarks inspire Loyalty Beyond Reason. Beyond Attribute, Benefit. Loyalty Beyond Recession.
- Great Brands were Irreplaceable. Lovemarks are Irresistible.
Your creative enterprise plays out somewhere on this axis:
- Low Respect. Low Love. From raw materials, raw experiences. US airlines.
- High Love. Low Respect. The creative zone of “NEW” and “GONE”. Some fads leap to Lovemarks. Most don’t.
- High Respect. Low Love. Those “e-r” words again. Where brands wage wars around performance, respect and trust.
- High Love and High Respect. Lovemarks, Coca-Cola to Cadbury milk chocolate. Priceless, fun … and daring to think different …
IDEA #5 WIN WITH CREATIVITY
We live in the Age of the Idea, where the unreasonable power of creativity (not the reasonable power of rules) leads the way.
Ideas are the currency of the future, and an idea is only an idea once. A great idea reframes, and often surprises with the obvious.
- Toyota Prius – a button start ignition
- Microsoft Kinect – replacing a game controller with the human body
- Kaspersky Lab – fighting computer viruses by hiring Russia’s best kid hackers
Creative sparks come from great insights, but most insights are information dressed up in disguise.
Information – Knowledge – Insight – Foresight
Information – Knowledge – REVELATION – Foresight
INSIGHT – People like low-cost frequent flying buses
REVELATION – Put experience in the bus, and you crush the competition – America’s Jet Blue!
INSIGHT – To develop a pen that could write in space, NASA spent millions on advanced technology.
REVELATION – The Russians used a pencil!
IDEA #6 WIN WITH THREE SECRETS
Lovemarks have three key ingredients.
- Mystery is the unknown, the unexpected and the unbelievable, myths and icons, dreams and stories…. it’s what we don’t know that matters most.Carrefour Planet has a “discovery” store. Surprise events every two weeks include cooking lessons, make up lessons, massages.
- Sensuality is Sight, Sound, Scent, Touch and Taste, the enthrallers of emotions.Adidas has a touchscreen wall that lets you preview more than 8,000 products in 3D. Touch and drag to find your perfect sneakers.
- Intimacy is the thoughtful touch, the little surprises that connect with a consumer’s heart.The idea for Starbucks baristas to wear name badges came from? Consumers! (mystarbucksideas.com)
Empathy, commitment, passion – and humor, the shortcut to the heart!
IDEA #7 WIN ON SCREENS: HOME TO STORE
Latin America’s internet population grew 15% in the past year. In the Now, everything is digital and there is only one world, a Screen Age, not offline or on.
TV is the most emotional powerful medium and will be the dominant medium of our lifetime – as a device, a format, a host of news, sport, drama, entertainment, gaming, social media, web, advertising.
We remember 20% of what we read, 80% of what we see. In New Zealand my home, 3 of 4 online users now watch online video. Is it TV? You betcha – but not TV as we knew it! TV is forming a future we simply call sisomo – sight, sound and motion. Sisomo in the street, on the go, in-store, in the moment.
In this future TV, mobile, social, internet are one. The victors will be those who outplay others on the field of great content. People are drawn to compelling stories.
If you’ve got a great story to tell in a compelling way, you’ll have an audience – and revenue.
The store is on an experiential journey, and it works search to shelf. The job is to build buying momentum throughout the journey from first impression in the home or on the move to when she buys in the store.
With a screen in every space, every moment and every pocket, shopping is a 24/7 mobile fiesta! There will be exceptional growth of online streaming and mobile, there will be mega-mashing of online searching with in-store experience. YouTube is at 200 million mobile playbacks a day, and ramping.
Satisfaction is table stakes in the global game show of shopper inspiration. Whether it’s a browsing app, a navigation tool or a rock n’ roll pop-up shop, simplify, elevate and share heart-pumping experience.
Inspire solutions, start sensations, fire conversations.