vuca prime

how to tackle the challenges of vuca

VUCA is short for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity, the characteristics of the modern (management) world.

  • Volatility
    The nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.
  • Uncertainty
    The lack of predictability, the prospects for surprise, and the sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events.
  • Complexity
    The multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues and the chaos and confusion that surround an organization.
  • Ambiguity
    The haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion.

The common usage of the term VUCA began in the 1990s and derives from military vocabulary and has been subsequently used in emerging ideas in strategic leadership that apply in a wide range of organizations, including everything from for-profit corporations to education.

For most contemporary organizations – business, the military, education, government and others – VUCA is a practical code for awareness and readiness. Beyond the simple acronym is a body of knowledge that deals with learning models for VUCA preparedness, anticipation, evolution and intervention. One of those models is

vuca prime

Re-defining the acronym by flipping it to positive characteristics, skills, and abilities for modern leadership.

  • Volatility => Vision
    Having a clear intent, a clear direction for actions, a perspective going beyond the assumptions of the present.
  • Uncertainty => Understanding
    Finding new ways of thinking and acting by listening and understanding, with the patience to overcome urgency.
  • Complexity => Clarity
    Making sense out of the chaos, being clear and accurate, simple but not simplistic, sometimes wrong but always true.
  • Ambiguity => Agility
    Staying alert and responsive to handle the inevitable surprises, using flexible networks rather than rigid hierarchies.

Developed by Bob Johansen, distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future and the author of “Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World“.

One of the challenges is to not only have leaders with the required skill-set, but as well to establish organisations in which this skill-set can thrive.