We propose you a magical VUCA exercise based on the inspiring painting by American author Edward Hopper.

A few years ago I participated in an exercise that fascinated me. It was about visiting 20 works by the famous North American realist painter Edward Hopper and selecting some of them to connect them, in some way, with the professional world of the characters and elements of people management in the company. And I can say that I was fascinated by how, from the ambiguous “information” of the paintings, the participants in the activity were able to create the context and imagine strategies, processes, emotions and intentions of the current world of organizations.

It is obvious that all artistic expression leaves an interpretative and emotional space for its audience, but it seems to me that Hopper achieves it in an exceptional way when he represents a light that illuminates but does not heat, a solitary happiness although in company, a public intimacy, a non-sensual eroticism in his nudes, a story that flows while being static, something hidden in plain light … Anyway, all wrapped up in that undefined double meaning.

Now let’s get back to the exercise and its connection to the VUCA world. I am not at all fond or knowledgeable in painting, just curious almost pathological for any brief activity. And I confess that I spent more than half an hour completely immersed in the game and tensing my brain. I was able to see that the painting titled “Interior” spoke of a woman preparing a feedback meeting with her manager in an intimate self-assessment exercise in front of the mirror. The work “Chop Suey” showed a selection interview, “Gasoline” the metaphorical representation of motivation and “People in the sun”, an ordinary management committee optimistically visualizing the business strategy.

I invite you to do so and to experience the immensity of possibilities that are presented to you. With this or other stimuli (cinema, literature or any everyday situation). I invite you to explore the wide range of interpretations and the reasons why you select the one that allows you to empathize with the work or the situation, a decision that is inevitably conditioned by your state of mind, your own experience or your vision of the world.

And this is how, from Cookie Box, we recommend living the unquestionable ambiguity of the VUCA environment, as an opportunity. Although it is disturbing at first, it offers, at the same time, and especially when framed within the pressure of response time so common in these times, a real challenge. A challenge that requires, on your part, a quick decision and the search for more information, knowledge or other contributions through collaborations that add agility. Stimulating one more time, right?

Selection of works by Edward Hopper referenced in the text for the exercise of ambiguity.

You can see 20 of his most famous paintings here: Edward Hopper

* This post is part of the eLearning Change of plans? Change of plane, on how to move nimbly in a world characterized by a high rate of change and low predictability.