VUCA Revisited Amidst Heightened Anxiety

IRCG's Mike Marks provides perspective amid all the volatility, uncertainty, chaos and ambiguity that have escalated following pessimistic economic reports.
VUCA

Over the past few years, distributors of all types have lived through a constant state of volatility, uncertainty, chaos and ambiguity. This is also known as the VUCA environment among business owners who have come to know unpredictability as the new normal. From the COVID-19 pandemic, to major supply chain backlogs, to a remarkably challenging labor market, to historic inflationary/pricing conditions, distributors have been put through the gauntlet recently, and there doesn’t appear to be legitimate reprieve in the near-term.

In an MDM Quicktake podcast published June 3, MDM CEO Tom Gale and Indian River Consulting Co-Founder and Managing Partner Mike Marks took a crystal-ball look at what the second half of 2022 looks like for distribution business conditions. Less than two weeks later, industry anxiety heightened further when the U.S. Federal Reserve bank enacted another hike to its interest rate, raising it 75 basis points — the largest single increase since 1994.

That rate hike was sandwiched between numerous reports of indicators and media reports that point to an economic slowdown that may arrive sooner than most anticipated six months ago. 

In another Quicktake podcast posted June 20, Marks emphasized the importance of not buying into all the doom and gloom talk and instead recognizing that volatility is here to stay, so we might as well make the most of it.

“The media makes it seem like everything is supposed to be stable and supposed to stay the same, and it just doesn’t,” he told Gale. “My basic view of this volatility is that we just need to get used to it and not pay attention everything being said. Everybody on this broadcast — if they’re a senior executive — has lived through more than one recession cycle and uncertainty.”

Marks went on to illustrate how, like in the early days of the pandemic, speed is perhaps the most critical tool for any business — along with having awareness of what’s happening in the market.

“I think there’s a larger gap now between what the leaders are doing and the heard, if you will —  the folks that are stuck,” Marks said. “And it’s basically the same things that people did back in the pandemic. You’ve got to move, you’ve got to respond, you’ve got to do what makes sense.”

“It’s going to be noisy,” he added. “You just do your business and take care of your customers and your suppliers.”

Check out the full 15-minute Quicktake podcast from the embedded audio above or at the link here.

SHIFT | The Future of Distribution

Marks will be one of the featured speakers at MDM’s upcoming SHIFT | The Future of Distribution industry summit, to be held Sept. 25-27 in Broomfield, Colorado. This unique event will help distributors navigate business model transformation across sales structure, digital and data analytics. Learn more about SHIFT here.

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