What to do in a VUCA world?

Fast-changing periods have always existed in global history however challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic but also climate change or digitalization make us face a more VUCA world than ever before.

Copyright Jeroen Kraaijenbrink

The acronomy VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) was developed in the US Army to prepare future generals for their challenging work environment.

  • Volatility describes the ups and downs of the markets and the world around us.
  • Uncertainty is incapacity to know what is going on and what will happen next.
  • Complexity are the numerous interconnected factors that complicate the analysis.
  • Ambigutity is the inability to draw clear conclusions from what we know.

Feeling confused or threatened is a normal reaction when facing some or all of these factors. However, successfully survining in a VUCA context is requiring a mindset shift and turning these challenges into opportunities.

  • V: Relating back to the concept of Creative Tension, volatility can be overcome by creating a vision and being flexible in the means on how to get there.
  • U: Certainty can be increased by developing our understanding of a situation or an actor, while being aware of biases and prejudice.
  • C: Clariy in the mission is essential in facing complexity. This also connected to having a vision in the first place.
  • A: To face ambiguity you need agility and fitness in your physical body but also in your mental tools. 

Based on Bob Johansen & James Euchner (2013) Navigating the VUCA World, Research-Technology Management, 56:1, 10-15

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