In a VUCA world, prediction and control are impossible, but preparation is possible, and immersion experiences are the most efficient and effective means of preparation.
Bob Johansen, Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present (Using Foresight to Provoke Strategy and Innovation)
There are these frameworks, these ways of thinking, that come back to front-of-mind rather often… Like the VUCA framework. I first read about it in the book Get There Early (see quote above). The VUCA world (VUCA originated at the U. S. Army War College – the graduate school for Generals-to-be):
Here’s a brief description of VUCA from the Wikipedia article:
- V = Volatility. The nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.
- U = Uncertainty. The lack of predictability, the prospects for surprise, and the sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events.
- C = Complexity. The multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues and the chaos and confusion that surround an organization.
- A = Ambiguity. The haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion.
Maybe we can put it this way:
Volatility – Everything seems always just a little “unsettled”
Uncertainty – Everything always seems to be “up for grabs”
Complexity –it keeps getting harder and harder to keep things simple
Ambiguity – what we just knew was “right” yesterday may not be “right” tomorrow
I’ve thought again about this VUCA reality in the midst of the changes thrust upon our society in the last few days. Marriage is now legal for any two people who want to get married. That was definitely not available for all such couples before — ever before. The Confederate Flag is now practically impossible to defend. That is another new “reality” for our nation.
And, in one fell swoop, with the arrival of Apple Music, I may never purchase another music album (I almost typed “record album” – now that’s a phrase from the past).
In other words, everything is changing; everything really may be up for grabs.
This is the VUCA world we now live in. And it is an understanding, a framework for thinking, what we probably should all adopt. Because, I’ve got a hunch that the volatility is just beginning…
And so, in your company or organization, in your nonprofit, or church, in your city, your state, your country, volatility is the name of the game. But, as author Bob Johansen put it, preparation, getting ready for that volatility, is possible. And, maybe, an absolute necessity.
Here’s a graphic of the VUCA way of thinking from What VUCA Really Means for You by Nathan Bennett and G. James Lemoine.