Posts Tagged ‘impact’

Santa Claus and VUCA

Monday, December 15th, 2014

The Holiday season set me thinking.VUCA and its impact on strategy

One of the traditions in our version of the Holidays is the letter/email from each child to Santa Claus, the determination if the child has been naughty or nice and, assuming the latter, the resulting delivery of gifts on Christmas morning.

To execute successfully, Santa manufactures or purchases the gifts then packages and delivers them.

These operations take place in his workshop and distribution centre, located at the North Pole and staffed by elves.

This much we know for fact.

This year, however, there’s a question around Santa’s strategy which is of fundamental interest to all strategy consultants.

What is the impact, if any, of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity)?

Academics and key figures in the consulting world appear to agree that VUCA exists. But that’s about it.

Because, while some say it has made strategy and strategic planning redundant, others argue it has no impact whatsoever on the need for an organization to develop and execute a coherent strategy.

It’s important at this point to determine Santa’s KPI’s.

The 2 critical performance factors are accuracy (the right kid gets the right toy) and on time delivery (the toys are delivered during the night on Christmas Eve). Quality is irrelevant because kids spend more time playing with the wrapping than with the presents.

It’s assumed that Santa has availed himself (I’m assigning a male orientation to the incumbent. A discussion of the suitability of other genders for the role is a topic for a future post) of all modern processes and technologies.

Lean manufacturing; warehouse management systems; mobile computing; performance-based compensation for elves; and video monitoring of child behavior, with NSA input on social media patterns; the use of ‘big data’ etc., etc., are all givens.

And Santa’s strategy is tried and tested over many years.

So the only variable is VUCA.

The only way we can be sure of the outcome is to wait until Christmas morning and conduct rapid research by monitoring social media trends and conducting structured telephone interviews with a representative sample of the population.

Now, I am not given to making predictions.

But, given the season, I am going to break this habit. I predict that Santa’s performance this year will be at least on a par with previous years.

Which means that VUCA will have had as little impact on his need for a strategy as it has on the needs of every other organization.

Happy Holidays!


If you enjoyed this post you’ll also enjoy 3 Techniques For Removing Bias From The Big Decisions

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Jim Stewart is the founding Partner at ProfitPATH. He has been working with business owners for over 16 years to increase profits and improve the value of their companies. LinkedIn


Little Things Can Have a Big Impact

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Little things, it’s amazing how much difference they can make.

Is how a business owner, or other member of a leadership team, talks to employees, team members, important? Could a simple, little thing like that have an impact on whether or not a company will reach its goals, get results?Certain behaviours can have an adverse and costly impact on the success of a company

Sara and I were kicking that around last week. Here’s how the thinking went.

Let’s assume that when companies realize that an employee isn’t going to work out they let the employee go.

Logically then, the remaining employees are there because the company has confidence – even trust – in them.

Looking at it another way, why would a leadership team, in a free market for labour, employ anyone they don’t have confidence in or trust?

So, assuming the business owner and her/his management team are surrounded by people they trust, why would they talk “at” them? Or worse, talk down to them?

What do we mean by talking “at” someone? For example, person A is talking to person B but not listening to anything person B is saying. And I’m pretty confident that most people reading this know what being talked down to is like.

Do these behaviours have an impact on results? Absolutely.

The persons B eventually become tired of being treated this way and leave. Turnover has all sorts of costs associated with it and can disrupt a company’s ability to perform at maximum effectiveness.

But turnover isn’t the worst thing that can happen. If a business owner or member of the leadership team doesn’t let an employee participate in a dialogue they risk not hearing feedback or an idea that may be better than anything else up to that point.

Would an employee be capable of coming up with such an idea? Probably, remember they’re there because the owner and management team had confidence, if not trust, in them. And, if you’re still not convinced, just watch an episode of Undercover Boss to see this in action.

So why isn’t the world like this?

Because human nature gets in the way. For example, while the owner may develop confidence and trust in person D, another member of the leadership team just may not; when people are under pressure because the company’s growing too slowly – or too quickly – it’s easier just to tell people what to do. It’s sad but true.

But it’s also expensive.

If you enjoyed this post you’ll also enjoy The People Pipeline

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