Navigating the VUCA world
By Staffan Lindgren
Change is all around us and it is not just adapting, but learning how to navigate in such an environment, that will make you successful. The VUCA world - volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous - requires a new set of skills and a new way of looking at the world.
The acronym VUCA was first used after the Cold War by the United States Intelligence Community to describe the realities of this new world. The wall had fallen and the old truths about who was a friend and who was an enemy no longer applied. The world had moved from a predictable black and white to a fast-shifting, colourful web constantly twisting and changing. Friend became foe and then, perhaps, a friend once more.
They called it a VUCA world.
Change is the new normal
In the VUCA world, change is the new normal. Things happen fast and are difficult to predict. They oscillate between extremes and the nature and speed of change is in itself a catalyst for even more change. If you used to be able to predict the effect of your communication, this is becoming increasingly harder. The V in VUCA stands for Volatile.
The U stands for Uncertainty. We used to be able to trust news sources, relying on the fact that "what you see is what you get". Today, we deal with fake news, rumours and viral information that is not checked or verified, which is sometimes treated as true by the most trusted newspapers and TV channels.
Contradicting information about a company's affairs is becoming more common, creating a strong sense of uncertainty regarding who to trust. The lack of predictability, the high probability of surprising developments, and the missing sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events is affecting us.
The logic behind cause and effect isn't clear anymore and it is hard to deduct more than a few obvious steps. With more information, options, and solutions, as well as an increasing sense of interconnectedness, the world is becoming more Complex - the C in VUCA.
Finally, the A in VUCA stands for Ambiguous. Everything we see has also changed from a black and white, good or bad narrative to a situation where something can be both good and bad. The ambiguity of the world feeds into volatility, uncertainty, and complexity and negatively impacts our ability to read and predict the future.