Things now just happen faster than they used to and one often doesn’t see them coming long in advance, if at all.
Whilst a stable context can be efficiently managed through a good understanding of the starting situation, clear objectives and the identification of the steps and resources required to reach them, this approach often doesn’t suffice anymore.
Hence, the traditional, top-down, linear, static team management model needs to adapt, in order to stay on top of change situations, instead of undergoing them.
Contextual leadership is a mindset, whereby an organisation creates the anticipation capability and context awareness needed to pick up changes in its environment, which can positively influence its objectives or negatively impact them. Such a mindset is critical to keep a competitive advantage or take the lead in a fast and constantly evolving world.
Ocean racing teams have long had to deal with what today is often referred to as a VUCA (volatile, unpredictable, complex, ambiguous) world and have developed the skills enabling them to thrive in these difficult conditions.
So, how have they approached this challenge?
Ocean racers have taken full advantage of technological developments not only to increase their boat performance, but also to increase the amount and accuracy of the data making it possible to understand the most performance-critical system beyond their control: the weather.
By enhancing the quality of the weather data, technology has created room, not to control, but to anticipate and adapt to change, in order to keep the initial objective of winning the race, as intact as possible or to increase its likelihood.
Routing scenarios and their translation into options and plans are key racing success factors. A sense of chronic unease towards forecasts means routing is constantly reassessed with respect to “what if’s” and performance indicators. This is not only the job of the skipper or the tactician, it is a process feeding from inputs coming from the entire crew.
One of the these sources of inputs comes from one of the most important allies of good sailors: their acute sense of observation. They will keep a constant eye on the sky and monitor the evolution of pressure, temperature and wind to decide when to change course: this is situational awareness.
What does the above mean for business performance in a volatile environment?
The stability of an initial objective is dependent on the capacity to adapt the strategy and plans to changes beyond one’s control.
This ability is a function of identifying what these changes are, of accessing quality data about their origin and of the development of options covering likely change scenarios.
Context monitoring guides the decision-making process through which leading change indicators govern when a new option is being followed.
ALL4ONE consulting trains organisations in project management, by transposing their competitive dynamics and challenges in ocean racing business games to grow the anticipation, resilience and decision-making skills required to thrive in today’s complex and fluid environment.
The ALL4ONE TROPHY, a business game simulating the preparation and participation in a sailing race around the world serves as backdrop for a value creation scenario. Design thinking, lean start-up and team performance levers are explored, before being combined in the game to augment the competitiveness experience.
Picture credits: © Dongfeng Race Team
ALL4ONE consulting designs and develops “ocean racing” business games based on clients objectives and needs. Get in touch for more information or a free demo: [email protected]