Navigating TUNA in a Rapidly Changing World
31 years ago, the US Military introduced the acronym VUCA, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Over time, this acronym has seamlessly integrated itself into management literature and vocabulary. Today, it remains a relevant descriptor for our increasingly complex and fast-paced world. However, I'd like to introduce an alternative acronym I've been exploring - TUNA.
TUNA, which stands for Turbulent, Uncertain, Novel, and Ambiguous, emerges from my customer interactions. It offers a slightly different perspective on our current reality. While "Volatile" is a fitting term for describing a world in constant flux, "Turbulent" resonates more with recent events that have upended our lives, such as sudden and soaring inflation rates and the ongoing war in Europe. This new perspective on the world changes the very essence of leadership.
The Changing Landscape of Leadership:
Just two years ago, discussions often revolved around flat hierarchies and agility. However, the evolving landscape now places greater emphasis on quick and sometimes radical decision-making. In times of stability, when companies can operate on autopilot and follow established patterns, leadership may seem less essential. It's during disruptions when the usual course of action is interrupted that leaders truly come into play. They must possess the courage to take responsibility, make decisions, and accept the consequences despite the unpredictability and lack of prior experience.
Redefining Radical Leadership:
Radical leadership today doesn't signify the return of the Great Man at the top. Based on my experiences with both my own staff and the companies we collaborate with, the primary goal of all managers should be to foster self-trust among their employees. Leaders should encourage their organizations to adopt an outside-in perspective. This approach allows companies to identify what customers are willing to pay for and leverage their core strengths to provide added value. Anticipating future needs is essential. This often means challenging established internal practices from an external viewpoint and, when necessary, making painful short-term changes to avert greater long-term challenges.
The Pitfall of Internally Defined Realities:
One of the prevailing issues today is that too many companies remain entrenched in an internally defined reality.
We don't need managers who merely occupy space; we need managers who create spaces for innovation and adaptation.