Engagement in a VUCA World: Strategies for Engaging Executives in the Midst of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity


Often, engagement strategies rely on senior executives to implement approaches for motivating and inspiring the workforce.  But what do you do when senior leaders – dealing themselves with increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – need to be engaged first?
Three years after the merger with Roche, Genentech continues to blaze new pathways in medicines that address patients’ unmet medical needs. But as Arlene Weintraub writes for Xconomy New York, “this kind of success could have easily been stalled or derailed by too much merger disruption or employee angst.” So how, specifically, have we built approaches and tools to keep executives engaged?
This session explores actionable approaches for tackling the hard work of engaging senior executives in a rapidly shifting business landscape – so that they may be better ambassadors to engage their organizations.  We’ll describe how marrying approaches from Organization Development and Leadership Development have helped offer integrated and complementary initiatives to:

  • Develop “trusted leadership”
  • Enhance accountability – even while what executives can “control” shrinks
  • Balance local (more decentralized) and global (more centralized) challenges
  • Move past “nostalgia” to focus on emerging growth and new business synergies.



Dr. Steven Kowalski

Executive Talent Development for Genentech, Inc.

Deary Paul Duffie

Director of Organization Development at Genentech, Inc.