VUCA is an acronym which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. So, VUCA world is the one in which everything changes, everything flows, panta rhei; not a really new concept, is it?
The acronym was first used by U.S. Army in 1987 as a term describing the new order that emerged after the Cold War, next It quickly sprouted on business ground, feeding into organizational management, trainings and development. Finally, it has also grown into concepts connected various social issues, e.g. migration, changes on the labour market, hyper-connectivity, the introduction of GDPR, etc.
Let’s now take a closer look at each of the four notions that VUCA stems from.
Whatever we plan today will probably prove inadequate tomorrow. The nature of changes that we are experiencing, and their future impact, is more and more difficult to embrace. We can often hear experts talking of volatile markets, volatile political situation, volatile relationships, whereas “stable” or “stability” are not necessarily mainstream.
As popular folklore has it, there are only three things that are certain in life: death, taxes and change. All the rest is uncertain and highly unpredictable; the awareness and understanding of ongoing events is limited; we cannot predict the what or why of various occurrences.
Undeniably, high quality connectivity makes things easier and faster for us; however, it also has a detrimental effect: every day, every moment we are forced to struggle our way through information noise and information pollution in quest of meaningful signals.
Nothing is what it seems at first sight, nothing is clear; every event, situation or piece of communication is relative: there are as many interpretations as there are individuals looking at still the same situation.
To sum up, VUCA appears incredibly… VAGUE, especially in the context of corporate world with all the KPIs, indicators, milestones, benchmarking and financial results – you name it, Dear Reader.
Fortunately, there is a light at the end of this obscure tunnel. Bob Johansen, the author of “Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World”, suggests that volatility can be approached with VISION, uncertainty with UNDERSTANDING, complexity with CLARITY, and ambiguity with AGILITY.
How can HR departments apply new VUCA ideas in their organizations?