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VUCA World

VUCA World

16 June 2018

In today’s VUCA world, with unpredictable changes often having unfathomable outcomes, organizations are building leaders with powerful leadership skills to tackle these challenges and maybe even thrive in the ambiguity. India, one of the rising economic powers in Asia will also see companies aiming at scaling new heights of growth.

The VUCA concept seems to have been first introduced in the early 90s by the US Army War College to refer to the multilateral world that emerged after the end of the Cold War and was characterised as being more Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous than ever before.

In a business context, the VUCA concept took off after the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Since then, it has featured heavily in the development of leadership skills in various organisations. The concept describes a business environment characterised by:

  • Volatility : A brutal increase in four dimensions of the changes that we face today: the type, speed, volume, and scale.
  • Uncertainty : As a result of the Volatility, we are unable to predict future events.
  • Complexity : Widespread confusion, with no clear connection between cause and effect, affects all organisations nowadays.
  • Ambiguity : There is a lack of precision, and the existence of multiple meanings within the conditions surrounding us.

We are dealing with a world where change is ever greater, where the future is less predictable, where the options increase exponentially, and the way we think about these options has undoubtedly changed. Today, leaders must make decisions faster, processing huge amounts of information, and where everything is more interconnected than ever before.

One of the key failures is to lead us to find what is probable rather than what is possible. The VUCA environment means that we must focus on what is possible (because anything can happen) rather than on what is likely to occur (which is determined by what happened before).

There are four habits that can help us evolve and improve our ability to deal with higher levels of complexity. These four habits are easy to implement:

  • Ask different types of questions
  • Take on multiple perspectives
  • Develop a systemic vision
  • Look at the whole picture; take a step back to see what’s possible

This challenge is so critical that our survival depends on it. I believe there are strategies to learn not only to survive, but also to thrive in our environment. We may as well enjoy it while we change our mind-set. That’s what leadership development and coaching is actually about.


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