VUCA (Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) is here to stay. Here’s 10 steps to using complexity to advantage for leadership growth and decision making accuracy.

#1: Balance Rational Thinking with Intuitive: An entrepreneur’s greatest ally is their intuition, often confused with fear but distinctly different. By raising self-awareness so you know the difference, your intuition can work effectively with the rational mind to offer a more accurate sense of timing, direction and insight.

#2: Look Beneath the Surface: 100% of the time things are never as they appear on the surface. Signals on the surface may be the same from one context to another but the source of what you are seeing is likely to be quite different. Ask deep questions to reveal underlying values or interests. Elicit higher order of thinking so creativity can solve what analysis cannot.

#3: Expand Thinking: Noticing when you are taking a fixed position on a topic gives you the power to pause, back up ten steps and shift perspective to see the situation from a different angle. Try on a divergent viewpoint without needing to agree with it to test your own ability to think flexibly and be open to new ideas. Back away from assessing of who is right or who is wrong when both views may be two sides of the same coin.

#4: Develop Agile Thinking: Experiment with shifting your perspective at will. See things from many angles. Use a wide-angle lens to see the vision, then dive deep to see the operational view. Diverse thinking is essential to switch from ‘everything is a problem’ to ‘how can we use this as an opportunity for growth?’

#5: Raise the Bar on Ego: At a lower level, ego operates as ‘I’m right; you are wrong.’ At a higher level, ego steps forward as trusting and confident in yourself without a need to compare to others. One way ego shows itself is when you find yourself needing to be ‘right’ when faced with a different or diverse viewpoint. Many times, ideas are one facet of perception that make up the larger tapestry; one piece of a thousand piece puzzle. Divergent views build a richer solution. Everyone is smarter working together than anyone person.

#6: Take a holiday: In striving to achieve or accomplish a goal that is mired in complexity you can hit a wall without knowing it. Rather than push through the problem, take a vacation or a walk. Give it to your intuition to solve by not focusing on the problem. The answer will emerge. All you have to do is listen to the whisper or pay attention to the flash of insight. Vacations keep the mind fresh and productive.

#7 Spend Time in Nature: Nature offers far more data and ability to develop your mind than any other environment. Trace the path of an ant and observe how it navigates. Develop ability to see inter-relationships in Nature, then walk back into your office and observe the social and emotional pathways that inform the office community of a change. You will witness the key to transforming organizations faster.

#8 Sense, Don’t Think: Seeing through complexity is not something the rational mind is capable of quite simply because it can’t process that much data quickly. Using your sensory abilities allows you can process vast amounts of information to gain clarity without blowing any brain fuses. Chapter 5 of Decision Making for Dummies explains the difference in processing speed.

#9 Take Time to Reflect: We don’t learn from our experience; we learn by reflecting on experiences. Take the time out to see things from a distance, particularly difficult events or experiences. Notice any emotional charge, negative or positive. Reflect on what you have learned without converting something into a belief to rationalize or make sense. Beliefs may or may not be true. Learning is about the value the experience held for you and it will be positive and non-judgmental for experience to convert to knowledge.

#10 Develop Emotional Detachment: Detachment does not mean ‘not caring’. Detachment means caring from a distance. When a co-worker is angry, does it trigger anger in you? Or does their anger pull you down? Optimally, being able to regulate your emotions and restoring your feelings to a calm peaceful state will serve you well in decision- making.

Chapter 5 in Decision Making for Dummies explains the science behind heart coherence. Bringing your feelings into alignment with your words and thoughts will improve your capacity to read the signals in your environment and to interpret them accurately. Better decision making is the reward.
Complexity is one of the conditions inherent in VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity). At some point in your decision making you will be faced with one or more of these conditions particularly if you live out loud in the world! Self-mastery is on the road to discovering and uncovering what more you are capable of in shaping the future.

Dawna Jones consults on transforming companies and decision making to the level of leadership needed to navigate VUCA conditions. She distils complex conditions down to profound insights or principles guiding decisions. Working with internal change agents, she applies complexity science to co-design creative transformation from “business-as-usual” to inspirational communities tackling big issues, effectively boosting business value and relevance. Contact through LinkedIn or


The global and business issues we face today require full employee engagement and a different thinking. Dawna loves to work collaboratively to evolve and transform workplaces to be more ‘fit’, agile and inspiring. By shifting perspective to expose the invisible elements creating routine results, clients gain the strength and clarity needed to remove barriers to growth. Intelligent and intuitive insights strengthen leadership capacity to use complexity fluently and grow beyond the limitations of profit to achieve greater prosperity and value. To activate a quantum leap in leadership, Dawna started the Evolutionary Provocateur podcast in 2008. Author of Decision Making for Dummies, a speaker and a tad nomadic, Dawna is currently working on using Virtual and Augmented Reality to accelerate business culture change and human potential. An original thinker, she brings personal experience with resilience and transformation to her leadership.


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