Alan Etchenkamp

The ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn, is something that is important to how humans deal with change. Speaker, Alan Echtenkamp, Organizational Psychologist states, “People are having a hard time adapting to the current environment…something that is critical for your personal and your professional life. It’s (also) something that’s important to adapt to the world we live in, and to thrive.”

Alan proceeds to present a framework consisting of: Context, the idea that the world is changing, and it’s happening faster than many are comfortable with. Skillset, that provides the tools you need to adapt to the context. Mindset, perhaps the most important aspect, being receptive to change and adapting to the changing world.

The origin of VUCA comes from the military and was coined following the end of the cold war. It stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, reflecting the newly redefined landscape of that time, and fitting quite well with our own modern ethos of rapid moves, incomplete information, non-linear effects, and uncertain understanding of how changes will influence each of us.

A quick audience poll of changes, brought about some themes that were mentioned in many sessions at the 2022 National Summit – inflation, talent retention/acquisition, lack of time, cybersecurity, maintaining/growing focus, hybrid workplace, reduced budgets, the speed of change, recession, and white labeling – all topics that define the “context” which each of us, potentially, may currently be struggling to address.

Alan took this “model” and overlayed it to how companies reacted, both short term and long term, to the COVID crisis. Abstracted how it worked, how it didn’t, and how we’re left to address new challenges. Which brought the conversation back to VUCA, and how it can help us understand how to approach the way we work together, the added stress we face and the skillset we need to compensate for the current situation, in order to move forward successfully.

To hear more about the “skillsets/mindsets” you need to develop, dive deeper in VUCA, and get a taste for “learning agility”, watch the whole recording, available online now.