A Gartner study recently reported that more than half (57%) of CMOs expect to see a return to business as usual in the next 18-24 months.
It made me think about what “business as usual” even means right now. Some aspects of how we work have changed so fundamentally, it’s hard to imagine that some of these changes aren’t permanent. I read somewhere that COVID is not so much forcing a change in business as it is accelerating a future that was already underway.
For a few years, I’ve been hearing the managerial acronym VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) to describe the turbulent business environment we work in. What struck me recently was to learn that the VUCA concept actually originated more than 30 years ago. The U.S. Army War College first coined the term in 1987 to describe the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment at the end of the Cold War. The VUCA concept has been applied many times since then.
A few years ago, HBS senior fellow Bill George argued that today’s VUCA business environment calls for “a VUCA manager.” He re-imagined the acronym to describe characteristics of business leadership we need right now: Vision, Understanding, Courage, and Adaptability.
The idea of returning to business as usual is a comforting thought. But when has business as usual ever been usual? Instead of going back to work, we’re always going forward to work.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: