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Facing a ‘VUCA’ world

Elevation Forum focuses on entrepreneurial mindset needed to thrive in today’s uncertainty

BY Dan Mack, Mack Elevation

Mack Elevation founder Dan Mack kicked off the most recent meeting of his Elevation Forum by highlighting the speed at which knowledge is compounding.

“Until 1900, knowledge doubled every century. By 1950, knowledge doubled every 25 years. In 2000, knowledge doubled each year. Now, knowledge doubles each day,” Mack said. “Those who get ahead in this century will be those who dance with uncertainty and find danger, rather than comfort, in the status quo.”

The event, which took place April 26, began with a group discussion on the effects of increased volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, or VUCA, within the industry and how companies can thrive in such an environment. 

Mack said that research shows the buying process has changed, trust in the buyer-seller relationship has diminished and the No. 1 challenge for salespeople is communicating value. “Sales leaders must become domain experts, and must unlock new value by pausing more often, investing in new outside voices, and offsetting ambiguity by testing and experimentation,” he said.

The forum featured a panel about thriving in a VUCA world, featuring Chris Dimos, McKesson’s president of retail health; Ankit Patel, Boxed.com’s director of merchandising; Alex Hurd, deputy COO of ClarusONE Sourcing; and Sandy Katz, vice president of sales and marketing for agency 113 Industries.

“Our industry has oceans of data, and puddles of knowledge,” Dimos said.

Katz similarly noted that companies need to know the limits of their data. “Companies typically rely on internally-generated research that is based upon the company’s understanding of their brands and the consumer. These approaches have value, but typically are not the source of major breakthroughs.” Katz said, noting that 113 listens social conversations around brands to help guide insights. 

The afternoon discussion focused on what elite engagements looking, with Mack offering an example. “The best engagements are highly experiential, adaptable, and filled with ‘moments that matter’ for all participants,” Mack said. “How you show up in meetings matters more than you think.”

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