WFH Week 5; J’s and P’s in a VUCA world

VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) – yes, we know it can get a bit over used – but this definition of the post-Cold War era has definitely found new resonance in the current climate. For those of you less familiar with it, VUCA focuses on the unpredictability of events and conditions outside of the normal controls of the organisation But, the impact of VUCA doesn’t just affect leaders – it can be felt keenly throughout the business potentially impeding decision making something which is certainly affecting everyone throughout organisations at present.

In coaching sessions this week it’s become clear that as teams move out of ‘scramble mode’ and begin some first tentative steps into thinking ahead, the usual constructs for planning are having to be reworked and ‘VUCA rules’ applied. The conditions that seem most unmanageable though are also the very same that often generate the most creative and inspired solutions. As a client of our quote only today, ‘Well, it is a challenging time, but adversity also breeds innovation and some great things have been happening too.’ So, in this time of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity how are MBTI Judgers and Perceivers (the planners and the experiencers) doing?

For J’s this, in many ways, can feel like familiar territory. Devising plans and schedules is an obvious preference of theirs and so to work through what the stages of release from lockdown and recovery might look like is a task they’re more than capable of and one most will relish. Where it becomes less appealing is the constant revision necessary or the multiple solutions needed in our present VUCA state. To the outside world J’s appear decisive, they like to have things settled and not in limbo but, as with all MBTI dichotomies there’s more at play than what we might first assume. Internally J’s may feel very able (and willing) to flex and adapt to new information amidst the flow and flux of data and opinion swamping our daily lives at the moment. Part of their challenge will be their innate desire to make sure processes align to plans and are adhered to in the bubble of WFH.

For P’s in search of alternative options and other ideas, there’s a wealth of material to go at and they may actually feel energised by the need to ‘avoid taking a hard line’ too quickly, keeping several routes open. This after all is their domain. Rather than being corralled into position, P’s may well be enjoying this period of exploration and speculation, utilising their preference to best effect. It’s important not to misread this as being indecisive or sitting on the fence though – P’s are every bit as capable as J’s in coming to a conclusion and considering the scale of upheaval at present, may even be craving closure on some levels.

Tips for P’s:

  • Influence the business to see the value of collecting additional data in order to make decisions – but keep testing and questioning the validity and rigour of the information. And know when to stop!
  • Recognise that acting with pace in the current climate can be an advantage and as such some deadlines, however short, are necessary
  • Inform the team, don’t surprise them! Think about how you keep information flowing and communication channels open. Make sure people know where your thinking is at and where your focus is. Teams we’re working with are finding the short, regular ‘virtual’ sessions much more effective and efficient than the old lengthy weekly meetings

Tips for J’s:

  • Pay attention to and enjoy investigating the ideas coming in and being shared rather than focusing on the decision or deadline
  • Inject into the tasks and projects definitive milestones and closure and use these to keep your J fed and engaged
  • IJ’s in particular who tend to favour gradual change based on accurate and adequate information may find inspiration in partnering with an EJ who will be more likely to want to move quickly, but will still enjoy seeking out the practical value of any ideas suggested
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