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Angels, Kylians And Messiahs In A VUCA World

For those who watched the finals between Argentina and France, the names Angel, Kylian and Messi must have lodged themselves deep into their being

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The recently concluded FIFA World Cup Soccer 2022 at Qatar climaxed in its final encounter.

For those who watched the finals between Argentina and France, the names Angel, Kylian and Messi must have lodged themselves deep into their being.

This article is from a different perspective though. While the avid followers of sport will cherish this exhilarating match for a long time to come, what lessons do this match offer for the explorers in the VUCA World of start-ups!

Was there a subtle foresight element embedded? Was there a hint of scenario planning to arrive at the future-turned-reality for Argentina! Did the match posses complicated maneuvers hone strategic foresight?

Foresight is foremost for exploration in a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous)!

The thought of discerning the foresight element in this game brings forth the picture of Angel Di Maria, the Argentine left winger. The Argentine coach had the foresight that Angel would probably be a gamechanger in the match that mattered most for his nation. 

As the player was not fully fit for playing the full ninety minutes, he was strategically deployed by the coach in various matches throughout the tournament to keep him conserved yet game ready. The French were caught unawares when Angel was deployed at start-up for the finals. 

The result was highly visible from the kick-off itself, the entire French defence was outflanked by this nimble footed winger and they were found fumbling with their bearings and conceded twice in the first half.

When we speak start-ups, it is easy to relate who these Angels are at the start-up line for these ventures. They are the initial seed investors bringing in financials and set the track for shaping up of these entrepreneurial forays in a VUCA World. Angels do guide initially but in a VUCA world beginner’s luck unravel quickly in a turbulent environ.

The VUCA world harbors silent killers and they swoop as Angels fade!

Angel Di Maria had to be eventually rested by the Argentine coach with the second half of the match still open. The French had already made intermittent replacements to salvage their chase for the cup but the tournament’s hyped boy and golden boot favourite Kylian Mbappe was largely silent throughout the presence of Angel. 

The French resilience reflected in the strategic changes bringing versatility in their forays for the elusive goals. The last ten minutes of regulation time commenced and undoubtedly the Argentine grip and stronghold on the situation was evident to all. But was there a hint of complacency somewhere! Two quick strikes by the highly skilled and explosive Kylian suddenly brought down the swelling Argentine confidence to near nothingness in the closing minutes. 

The drooped Argentine shoulders had anguish written all over. So excitingly close to make land but the Kylian cliffs threating to be the ship wrecker!

Start-ups encounter such instances, repeatedly. A false sense of security and steady charted course often breed complacency but many a times last minute fall through on an expected investment, a wholesome order or a profitable collaboration takes out the proverbial wind out of their sails. VUCA simply consumes them, and they disappear into oblivion.

Then there are Messi(ahs) in the VUCA world! Leaders who keep their sight on the evolving turbulence and tweak their navigation to arrive at the port of deliverance. Previously well-known and now a household name of sorts, Lionel Messi, the Argentine captain scored the opening goal from the spot in this high voltage game. 

The only elusive cup for this great footballer had been the World Cup and this was his last one in all practical consideration of age and ability.

Could Messi deliver when the certainty of first eighty minutes had suddenly slipped away in the last ten?

The match headed into extra time, an extended test of grit, physical and mental strength for both the sides. A Messiah shoulders the biggest chunk of responsibility to see through the cause of his people. So did Messi, he scored one more to put Argentina ahead and urged his team to play up with the inherent determination of this footballing nation. But Kylian was still lurking, he again scored the equalizer amidst great turbulence on the turf and unforced error by the Argentine defence. 

Those who watched this match could probably recall the impassive face of Messi even after this evident setback to his plans, rather his face was set in a kind of determination now. This determination translated into the Argentine team as its stoic goalkeeper made a final save as the game went into the penalties.

Thereafter it was a complete mind game between the penalty shooters and the goalkeepers. The body language of the Argentine goalie was something to watch, he made a tremendous save and then forced an error on the French and the World Cup was decided. In the endgame of penalties, Martinez was the Messiah!

Can you recall such Messi(ahs) in the VUCA world of Start-Ups! Those who delivered when all hopes had diminished and the inevitable appeared to be certain.

Kylian scored four times for the French side, Messi scored thrice for his.

Argentina won but did France lose, or did they imbibe learnings for crafting their future readiness? The answer to this question will be revealed in future when Kylian will have his playfield sans the Angels and Messi(ahs) of today! What say the proponents in VUCA world of start-ups?

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. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
vuca foresight start-ups strategy Endgame Soccer

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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Deepmalya Datta

A B.Tech (ECE) and MBA with professional experience of over 14 years in the oil/gas/petroleum sector. Presently working with Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, a Fortune 500 Company. Broadly as a researcher, interested in strategic studies in energy transitions due to VUCA challenges posed by depleting fossil fuel reserves and emerging alternatives.

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