S&T Happens

The world is a crazy unpredictable place. How do you survive and thrive in the chaos?

S&T Happens

I've been following Rob England for a while on LinkedIn. He posts a lot about better ways of working. If you don't follow him, I highly recommend it. A while ago I happened to get on a Zoom call with Rob. We had a great chat and he mentioned his new book (at the time) -S&T Happens. So I read it.

Surviving and Thriving in a VUCA World

What is VUCA? It is an acronym that describes our current world as

  • Volatile
  • Uncertain
  • Complex
  • Ambiguous

The main premise is that the pace of change has hastened over the past several decades. Waterfall-style thinking may have worked in the past because the world moved slowly enough that the assumptions you made at the beginning of the project still held at the end. That is no longer the case.

Adaptability = Agility + Resilience

To survive and thrive in a VUCA world we need to be adaptable. In Rob's definition, adaptability has 2 components: Agility and Resilience. Agility is the ability to change directions. Resilience is the ability to survive when we get things wrong because inevitably we will get it wrong. In order to survive and thrive you need both.

The Problem with Efficiency and Optimization

A lot of companies focus on efficiency and optimization. These are good qualities when they help us to change direction. When overdone they can sabotage our resilience. As an example Just-In-Time Manufacturing was super-efficient and optimized, however it was not resilient to supply chain interruptions caused by COVID.

Better Ways

The book goes on to lay out a better way. It talks about something Rob calls Open Planning. I won't try to explain all of it here. There's a lot to it. It involves making sense of the world, running experiments, identifying risks, envisioning various possible scenarios, coming up with contingency plans and more. If you want all that information you'll have to read the book.

Who Should Read This Book

This book is a must-read for anyone who is leading a business or organization. It provides a framework for making sense of VUCA and how to survive and thrive in it. It is a short read, so there really is no excuse.