The world is filled with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) as I have discussed several times. This kind of environment makes agility and adaptability a premium in being able to deal with this environment and prevent what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls "Black Swan Events." Taleb's theory "refers only to unexpected events of large magnitude and consequence and their dominant role in history. Such events, considered extreme outliers, collectively play vastly larger roles than regular occurrences."
The United States Intelligence Community (IC) and military understand the importance of trying to identify Black Swan events early and prepare plans that allow commanders Flexible Deterrent Options (FDO) in the deployment of available forces. These show of force operations usually involve the build-up or deployment of forces, an increase in readiness and level of activity. The concept of Adaptive Planning provides the following:
"The adaptive planning concept calls for development of a range of options during deliberate planning that can be adapted to a crisis as it develops. Where the crisis builds slowly enough to allow, appropriate responses made in a timely fashion can deter further escalation or even diffuse the situation to avoid or limit conflict. Where such options fail to deter or there is not time to execute options, a stronger response may be required to protect vital interests. The eventuality of attack without prior warning must also be considered."
So in understanding this approach and why it is used in the Department of Defense, I turn to Human Capital Management(HCM). The current economic environment has created challenges in looking at strategy as a "long-term" need. In some respects during the initial stages of the financial meltdown...strategy was emerging on a weekly basis in many organizations. In that context, it was difficult for HCM to be proactive and support the business and really precipitated reactive tendencies.
So this provides the context for application of adaptive planning in creating flexible human capital response options (FHCRO) in private and public sector organizations. HCM leaders must start by getting into the organizations strategic planning cycle. Playing a proactive role in this process by understanding the organizations short-, mid-, or long-term strategy allows for defining the human capital capabilities (knowledge and skills) required to execute the business strategy. This however, is just to start...to create FHCROs, HCM leaders should conduct scenario planning sessions that seek to identify the most and least likely human capital situations aligned to the strategy. This allows thinking about potential Black Swan events and their effect on the organization's human capital.
By combining scenario planning and business requirements definition, the HCM leader can develop a series of tailored FHCROs that are agile and adaptable enough to adjust to quickly changing events. Because in the future...organizations that can adjust the fastest to VUCA environments will be the ones best positioned to excel.
DNA of Human Capital: http://dna-of-humancapital.blogspot.com/