Blog Videos

Leading and Managing in a VUCA World


This short video by Reza Razavi and Simon Sagmeister looks at challenges of transformation, the rate of change, digital mindset and culture change.

What is VUCA?

VUCA is a term coined by the US military that has been adopted by the corporate sector to describe the current social, economic, political and environmental world context. It stands for:

Volatile – with unstable challenges
Uncertain – with unknown outcomes
Complex – with many interconnected parts
Ambiguous – with lack of clarity

The speed of change

The world is moving at an unprecedented rate of change. In a span of five minutes, all this happens:

Uber – 2278 rides; Spotify – 76 104 hours listened; Instagram – 134 000 hours watched; Amazon – $407 192 in sales; Tweets – 694 444; Snaps – 1.1 mio; Facebook – 586 000 status updates; Tinder – 1.9 mio swipes; Google – 4.8 mio searches; YouTube – 5.6 mio video views; Whatsapp – 41.86 mio messages; Emails – 300 mio mails sent.

Of the top 30 brands in the world today, 14 of them are platform based companies where buyers, sellers and third parties are connected. Who are these new players? Companies like Alibaba, Airbnb and Uber are amongst them.

The average life span of an S&P 500 Company has decrease from 67 years in the 1920’s to 15 years today. Only 11% of the Fortune 500 Companies from 1955 are still on the list today. Famous companies such as Braun, AEG, Chrysler, Blaupunkt to name a few have gone bankrupt or have been taken over.

Management guru, Peter Drucker once said, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence. It is to act with yesterday’s logic.” While the founder of GE, Jack Welch mentioned, “If the rate of change outside exceeds the rate of change inside, the end is in sight…”

Skills needed to lead in a VUCA world

Professor Greg Bunch talks about  The Strategic Leader in a VUCA World  in his video as part of Chicago Booth Executive Education. He identifies some of the skills a strategic thinker and leader must have to manage and lead in a VUCA world.

  1. Leaders have to see all the parts and pieces – what works, what does not and what is valuable. In other words, they need the detail but they also need to understand the essence of the situation.
  2. Leaders have to be able to scan the horizon and look for the opportunities and threats and most importantly, the anomalies. The anomaly is the most important breakthrough and ability to see things differently to the rest.
  3. It’s the ability to get as close as they can to where the value is being created and to be able to ask the right questions, the questions that matter.
  4. It’s paying attention to what matters to the business and not being distracted from the goal.
  5. It’s the ability to communicate memorably and meaningfully.


We live in times where change is happening more rapidly than ever before. The decisions made on one end of the globe can affect the rest of the world as rapidly and as forcefully as we’ve not ever seen. The way in which we lead and manage our organisations must take a VUCA world into account in order to survive, thrive and grow.

Education and Learning Futures


World renowned futurist, Professor Sohail Inayatullah speaks about education as part of his video series: What Works in Futures Studies.

In his segment on the future of higher education, Inayatullah talks about moving from the standardized, disciplined, uniform “old model” of doing things, to looking at alternative futures.

Inayatullah notes that an educational model that may have been useful for factory workers will not work for the information age. According to Inayatullah, students need an education that helps them to become more creative and gives them the skills to understand the changing future – and helps them to invent alternative futures.

He gives some examples. His first involves a country that is considering changes to its university system. The question that was asked: “Do they still need professors who clock in and out, or would it be better for them to work from home?” And if they do, how would they then create communities? Knowledge is not only created through personal work, but also through interaction with others. The discussion focused on two issues:

  1. How to create communities outside of universities; and
  1. How to reinvent the process of teaching – something seen as important because students are already seeking ways to download, digest and synthesize information in new ways.

In another project, the question was different. It was around the future of their universities. In that discussion, it was identified that a core attribute of the university was around poverty alleviation. From there, the group started thinking about how to use this work as central to their mission and was able to agree that research would be an essential focus for them.

In the last example, Professor Inayatullah speaks about the design spaces in universities: questioning how these spaces can help to inspire students as well as academic faculty. He looks at how to redesign campuses into student-friendly (rather than just administration-friendly) spaces.

Inayatullah concludes by saying that the new model of thinking is not about one group seeing the future, but about multiple stakeholders seeing and creating it together.

Linking Employment Skills and Education for Job Security


The critical relationship between job skills and education was highlighted by The World Economic Forum’s video: Employment Skills and Education (view above). In this video, the WEF identified the following critical gaps between job skills and learning:

  1. More than 61 million jobs have been lost since 2008.
  2. This has resulted in more than 200 million people currently unemployed globally.
  3. The youth unemployment rate is nearly three times higher than the rest of the population.
  4. Nearly 500 million new jobs will need to be created by 2020.
  5. Almost 90% of the job creation needed must take place in the developing world – primarily Africa and Asia.
  6. Educators and employers must work together to address education, skills and the unemployment challenge.
  7. For individuals, businesses and economies to stay competitive, current and expected skills gaps need attention.
  8. Entrepreneurship, SMEs and the gig economy are potential solutions, as well as reforms aimed at building human capital.
  9. Our 20th century education system needs to be redesigned to meet the real-time needs of the labour market.
  10. There is a need to develop 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, collaboration and digital literacy. This can be accomplished through lifelong learning, re-skilling and upskilling programs based on accurate data about education, skills, demand, supply and employment needs.

In relation to Africa, in May 2017, The World Economic Forum published The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa: Preparing the Region for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This report looks at Africa’s position in respect of education, skills and jobs. Here are some of the key points raised:

  1. The World Economic Forum’s Human Capital Index finds that Sub-Saharan Africa currently only captures 55% of its human capital potential, compared to a global average of 65%.
  1. By 2030, the continent’s working-age population is set to increase by two-thirds, from 370 million adults in 2010 to over 600 million in 2030.
  1. It is predicted that 41% of all work activities in South Africa are susceptible to automation. The concern raised is around the capacity to adapt to disruptions to the labour market. This includes new skills requirements, new occupations, new ways of organizing and co-ordinating work and the tools used in relation to these new occupations.
  1. Employers have already identified that a major constraint to business is inadequately trained and skilled staff. The WEF notes that this may get worse as core skills are being replaced to deal with the transition to digital technologies. In South Africa alone, the WEF notes, 39% of core skills required across occupations will be wholly different by 2020.
  1. The WEF’s report identifies that there will be strong demand for professionals who can combine digital and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills with traditional subject expertise. The report goes on to state that the transition to a more ecologically sustainable economic model has the potential to create millions of new jobs globally, including in Sub-Saharan Africa. The report says that it’s estimated that by 2025 South Africa alone could create 462,000 additional jobs by “going green” through clean energy generation, energy efficiency, pollution control and natural resource management.

And whilst there are significant changes and opportunities ahead, the WEF points out some of the challenges that need to be addressed:

  1. There is currently a lack of coordination between Africa’s primary, secondary and tertiary education providers. The region’s pre-primary, technical and vocational, adult training and non-formal education systems remain unevenly developed.
  1. Currently sub-Saharan Africa also retains the largest gender gap in the education of girls and boys of any world region, limiting the breadth of Sub-Saharan Africa’s available talent pool and furthering social and economic disparities between women and men later in life.
  1. For those who are enrolled in schools and universities, African education systems’ quality and ability to meet the needs of a competitive economy, as perceived by respondents to the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey. The report suggests that learners are not acquiring the knowledge and skills required for today’s economies and societies.

What are some of the solutions identified in the report?

  1. It’s recommended that Africa’s educators should design future-ready curricula that encourage critical thinking, creativity and emotional intelligence as well as accelerate acquisition of digital and STEM skills to match the way people will work and collaborate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  1. There is a need to create a more robust education system that includes:
  • expanding access to early-childhood education;
  • ensuring the ‘future-readiness’ of curricula;
  • investing in developing and maintaining a professionalized teaching workforce;
  • early exposure to the workplace and career guidance;
  • investing in digital fluency and ICT literacy skills;
  • providing robust and respected technical and vocational education and training (TVET);
  • creating a culture of lifelong learning; and
  • openness to education innovation.

What does this mean for business?

The report identifies that economies across Sub-Saharan Africa have not fully leveraged the opportunities offered by Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), with formal enrolment standing at only 6% of total secondary and post-secondary enrolment across the region.

WEF argues that more learning will need to take place in the workplace and there should be a greater private sector involvement. This would mean that employers offer more learning opportunities to their workers in partnership and collaboration with governments, schools, universities and non-formal education providers.

Closing perspective from WEF report

“Education and work in Sub-Saharan Africa will determine the livelihoods of nearly a billion people in the region and drive growth and development for generations to come. As one of the youngest populations in the world, it is imperative that adequate investments are made in education and learning that holds value in the labour market and prepares citizens for the world of tomorrow. In addition, as the global transformation of work unfolds in Africa, policymakers, business leaders and workers must be prepared to proactively manage this period of transition.”


5 Trends Shaping the Future of Work

Does your organization have a vision for the future of work?

The way we work is changing, and changing rapidly. What future trends organisations pay attention to and how they adapt has become more important than ever.

Jacob Morgan, author of “The Future of Work”, identified 5 trends that will force organisations to change the way they think about how work gets done.

Here are the 5 trends he identified:

  1. Globalisation – The world is more connected than at any time in our history and will only become more so. Whether we are looking at location, languages, borders or cultures, we are no longer living in isolated communities within a predefined geographic location.
  1. Mobility – Where we work and how we work has changed. It is now about how we connect into work and how organisations adapt to this new mobility that no longer confines someone to an office or space.
  1. Millenials and changing demographics – By 2020, 50% of the workforce will be millennials, increasing to 75% by 2025. Organisations will need to work with a generation with new ideas, values and styles of working.
  1. Technology – Technology is pushing us more and more towards collaboration, automation, big data, robots and new ways of communicating.
  1. New behavior – How we work and live is being shaped to a large extent by changes in technology. Our lives are far more public. How we share information and how we communicate is very different to the world of even 5 years ago. Organisations will need to find ways to adapt.


It’s important that organisations prepare for these changes ahead and plan for the workplace of the future.

Top 10 job skills for work in 2020


Do you have the right job skills for a 2020 workplace?

We live in a time of exponential change that is disrupting every industry in every country. The digital revolution, characterized by an increasing reliance on technology, will impact every aspect of how we work and how we live. Many jobs will become obsolete and the social and economic structures that we grew up in will change dramatically. Both organisations and employees will need to reskill repeatedly to thrive in this changing environment.

After surveying the chief HR officers at some of the world’s leading companies, the World Economic Forum released The Future of Jobs report, revealing the top 10 skills that will be needed in 2020 to remain employable, as computers take over many of the tasks and jobs that people perform today. Here are the 10 skills that employers should look out for when recruiting:

1. Complex problem solving

Businesses are there to solve problems. As we go through this shift from old to new, problems increase in complexity and scale. Those with the ability to solve complex problems will be in demand.

2. Critical thinking

As old ways of thinking are disrupted, critical thinking skills become essential. Being able to ask the right questions in relation to problems, deal with abstract ideas, think open-mindedly and being able to communicate effectively are all part of critical thinking for 2020 and beyond.

3. Creativity

Now more than ever, we live in a world of possibility. We have far more freedom to think outside the box and to challenge assumptions and “group think”. Those organisations and individuals who create environments to harness creativity will be better prepared and more successful than those who don’t.

4. People management

As we head into 2020, the way people are managed will change. Work environments will become more collaborative, more focused on the team, more culturally attuned and tech savvy. Organisations, leaders and managers will have to adapt to these changes.

5. Coordinating with others

Coordinating with others will mean developing strong communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team, which will be more diverse in terms of personality, culture, language, generation and location.

6. Emotional intelligence

Handling our emotions and interpersonal relationships in the workplace and being able to emotionally respond to challenges and display good social skills will be essential in this environment.

7. Judgement and decision making

With new technologies and the increasing amount of data that is more readily available within organisations, employees who can make sound decisions and judgements based on all this information will be valued.

8. Service orientation

Consumers are increasingly more demanding of organisations and the products and services they offer. Organisations will by necessity need to ensure they can meet these new demands and will require employees understand this and who can go that extra mile.

9. Negotiation

With changes in our social and economic structures, business will rely more heavily on negotiation as means to engage both internally and externally.

10. Cognitive flexibility

The ability to adapt our way of thinking to face new and unexpected conditions in the environment will be essential. Employees will need to move out of their comfort zones as we move more and more into technical and social advances. This skill will be a must-have in this new time and space.


In this time of increasing change, both in our outside world and place of work, it’s more essential than ever to evaluate your skills and take the steps needed to make sure you’re prepared for the changes ahead.