Navigating Uncertainty, Handling Complexity — Leadership Skills Development (session recording)

Takeshi Yoshida
19 min readJan 26, 2024

Synopsis: Thanks to the popular “VUCA” acronym, the ability to manage enterprises and lead teams in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous conditions is now recognized as an essential leadership skill earmarked for development. But what exactly is this skill and how do we develop it? The concept is understandable, yet beyond as a mindset, what does it entail? How do we act on this skill? In coaching and training on this topic, I (Coach Takeshi) have found it useful to distinguish this skillset across the spectrum of the Cynefin Framework; most notably considering uncertainty and complexity handling as intertwined yet somewhat independent concepts, and a renewed appreciation for classic management skills in balance. In the dōjō session I shared this insight and how to generally approach the topic for learning and development, along with practical examples of tools, frameworks and processes to apply in each area of navigating uncertainty, and complexity handling.

※ Post session note: During Q&A, one of the participants commented that today’s contents actually felt like an integration of a lot of different leadership skills, and they were wondering how to learn them all, as they all seemed essential to today’s topic of navigating uncertainty and handling complexity. Indeed, today’s session was literally a stack of mental models, one after another. Post session, I reflected further on this great question. Is it a prerequisite to have all these leadership skill components first to be able to navigate uncertainty and handle complexity? Absolutely not! Instead, the idea here is to apply learning on learning itself. “What are some tangible ways to navigate uncertainty? I don’t know. This itself is uncertain to me.” In the lecture I emphasize multiple times the importance to tap into the experience and wisdom of our forebearers. It’s the keyword “vicarious” in Charlie Mungers famous saying, “You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience ‑ both vicarious and direct ‑ on this latticework of models.” The key visual I created for navigating uncertainty is a person holding a flashlight into the dark. You found this article because you were…

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Takeshi Yoshida

Chief Coach, Agile Organization Development (agile-od.com) — we are a tribe of change, transformation, innovation experts