Prof (Dr) Manoj Joshi

Dr. Manoj Joshi is a Fellow Institution of Engineers, Professor of Strategy, Director, Centre for VUCA Studies, Amity University, with 30+ years of experience in industry & research. He has authored 100+ articles, co-authored four books “VUCA in Start-ups” “The VUCA Company”, “The VUCA Learner”, “Technology Business Incubators” and is also on the Editorial Board of several international refereed Journals.

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Organisational Medley: Response To VUCA By Entrepreneurial Firms

Creativity is needed to produce unthinkable solutions to a problem; on the other side innovation is an act of implementing creativity in finding solutions.

In today’s business landscape, we observe numerous examples of entrepreneurs building a leading business. On the flip side, we also witnessed that several entrepreneurs who kept struggling without success, eventually abandoned their so-called entrepreneurial journey.

Organisations are intangible yet no one can ignore its existence. In an organisation, engaged employees are an outcome of positive experiences of the workplace, which in turn is dependent on many known and unknown factors. How do some entrepreneurs create such organisations, which facilitate value creation process towards the desired goals? This question prompted us to research and study several entrepreneurial firms for demonstrating our reasoning. Through this process, we coined the terminology ‘Organisational Medley’ and thought of exploring this by examining its veracity, application, and utility in responding to the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) factors in an entrepreneurial journey.

In search for Organisational Medley

Tracing the antecedents of the word medley, we came across definitions in context to music that described it as a collection of different musical tunes that are being played in a rhythm. In swimming, it reflects to four main strokes that occur one after the other. There are traces of discussions referring to medley of food. In organisational context, medley refers to contextually mixing different kinds of people to work together seamlessly and in synchronism to achieve a common objective with synergy. The terminology of Organisational Medley is not mysterious, but its presence or absence in an organisation can be observed clearly in difficult times, such as VUCA conditions. For example, the fight against pandemic caused by Covid-19 virus was well orchestrated by several organisations due to the presence of Organisational Medley.

Entrepreneurial initiative

Entrepreneurial initiative is an ability for turning ideas into actions. It must be creative and innovative, engaging a certain degree of risks. The goal is to get innovative thoughts, be open to new ideas, be engaged in interdisciplinary collaborations, and have a continual entrepreneurial mind-set. For entrepreneurial initiatives, two skills are highly critical: creativity and innovation. Creativity is an ability to think out of the box, while the innate ability for creating newer and unique ideas leads to innovation.

Creativity is needed to produce unthinkable solutions to a problem; on the other side innovation is an act of implementing creativity in finding solutions. It consists of thinking deeply and creatively encircling on a pressing issue, helping to gain new insight. It is a new idea or a solution for getting an effective and efficient solution for a perennial problem. It virtually drives innovation enabling an individual in approaching for a very different perspective. It helps in getting new insights by restructuring and breaking down the existing know-how about an issue.

In this context, there are two key aspects- i. People and, ii. Process. By being a process-oriented, the organisations get involved in identifying the root cause of a problem and in finding possible solutions. But solutions are offered by people who are the critical resources required for any set-up. This creative people are thus key resource encompassing a creative and an innovative mind. As a result of this approach, on being innovative, people who are creative tend to discover unique avenues from a different perspective. Organisational Medley is also people related and thus has a great relevance in entrepreneurial initiatives.

In entrepreneurial firms, groups of people come together in a way that enables Organisational Medley, fetching achievements that are far greater than any individual could achieve. Much of the value in a successful entrepreneurial firm is captured in finding and operationalising ways to overcome VUCA through Organisational Medley. However, entrepreneurial firms need to stay dynamic while they’re young. It requires efforts to find their ‘mojo’. Many never find the required degree of Medley. The entrepreneurial firms and their entrepreneurial teams who embrace VUCA, possess a better chance of creating the Organisational Medley. At least that’s true today. It will probably be different in the future.

Mitigating VUCA Challenges

In the above backdrop, the nine Indian cases of entrepreneurial firms were analysed to assess the prevailing VUCA factors that were present while the firms were executing their entrepreneurial initiatives. These cases were, namely Ola Cabs, Inmobi, Snapdeal, Quikr, Zomato, Paytm,, Flipkart and MUSIGMA, representing various verticals. The journeys of the identified entrepreneurial firms were analysed in six sequential stages capturing their Organisational Medley in progress. The analysis revealed that those who wish to start an entrepreneurial venture should not be afraid of challenges posited by VUCA; rather these factors should be embraced as an endowment. The avoidance of VUCA factors may not be the right approach.

There are VUCA factors in each stage of an entrepreneurial firm’s journey. The entrepreneurs must have perseverance, foresightedness, agility, creativity, and openness to learn. This is not rocket science and through proper education, training, and hands on experience, can be imbibed. These characteristics coupled with the Organisational Medley are of great significance in strengthening and executing strategies for mitigating VUCA challenges in entrepreneurial initiatives.

Creating an Organisational Medley

Factors such as passion, foresightedness, experimentation with an open mind, and learning from failures, and taking risks were the center topics of discussions at these entrepreneurial firms. A customer-friendly business model with a speedy delivery without compromising quality was adopted to respond to VUCA factors. A competitive strategy approach with a preference for an inorganic growth was considered as a useful strategy. Thus, the circumventing VUCA situations were responded with simplification and integration.

Organisations must engage in creating, shaping, and transforming their medley and thus making it responsive. It is all about integrity, trust, and empowerment. It is certainly about employee and leadership development. It has learning as the soul of the core business in a world of VUCA world. It is a big challenge, and hence, Organisational Medley must be infused before VUCA engulfs, eroding the progress.

Organisational Medley as a value needs to be articulated, shared, and reinforced. The other values, like empowerment, integrity, and employee development need a closer look with qualitative impregnation. This medley to be innovative, needs to be embraced, and nourished. CEO’s must be open, available, and accessible. They must setup a feedback mechanism from the beginning ensuring that ‘chaos and bad news concerning the organisation’ moves up fast for resolving. Promote an informal matrix of medley. Keep alert to increasing bureaucracy and layers of management as upscaling occurs. In a world spiraling under the wave of VUCA, for organisational survival, transition, and performance must exhibit an Organisational Medley.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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