What is this VUCA world?
Given the events of recent years, and the impending events facing us in years to come, Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus’ concept of VUCA has never been more relevant. Therefore, understanding how to flourish in these conditions has never been so critical.
So…here’s the VUCA world concept?
V – Volatility – a world constantly changing, becoming more unstable, changes big and small are becoming more unpredictable, more dramatic, and happening faster. As events unfold in completely unexpected ways, it’s becoming impossible to determine cause and effect.
U – Uncertainty – difficult to anticipate or predict events; history and past experiences are losing their relevance and are rarely applicable as a basis for predicting the shape of things to come. Impossible to plan as it becomes increasingly uncertain where the route is heading.
C – Complexity – Our modern world is more complex than ever. Problems and their repercussions are more multi-layered and intermingled, making it impossible to understand how things are related. Decisions are reduced to reactions and counter-reactions – and choosing the single correct path is almost impossible.
A – Ambiguity – “One size fits all” and “best practice” have been relegated to yesterday – in today’s world it’s rare for things to be completely clear or precisely determinable. Not everything is – ‘grey is the new black and white’. This demands that people are more contradictory and paradoxical than ever, challenging our personal value systems to the core.
In a world where the “what” takes a back seat to the “why?” and the “how?”, making decisions requires courage, awareness, and a willingness to make mistakes. (Bennis & Nanus)
How do you thrive in a VUCA world then?
To thrive in a VUCA world, someone needs to be ready to disrupt and be disrupted. This requires flexibility and the ability to adapt to new circumstances. We often refer to mental toughness, which is a mindset, and personality trait, that ideally ensures that an individual responds effectively to all aspects of, and circumstances attributed to, a ‘VUCA world’.
4 key strategies for not only surviving but thriving in a VUCA world
V – Vision – Paint a picture of the future you want (best self exercise) – as a compass in order to confer meaning and spark motivation – and to forge internal and external identity and effectiveness.
U – Understanding – Understand interconnections; make them transparent. Reflect on the context and think and plan meta-strategically. Reverse engineer your future. Embrace and exploit personal strengths. Convert anxiety and resistance into productive energy.
C – Clarity – Focus on what counts and what it’s really about (life control). Trust, transparent connections and processes. Apply energy and force exactly where they will be most effective.
A – Adaptability/Agility – Flexibility. Agility. Critical thinking. Promote a consistent culture for making decisions and accounting for mistakes. Facilitate innovation and build up resilience.
Where to from here?
This leaves us with an ideal opportunity to revisit an article we published 12 months ago, which outlines the 4 constructs of Mental Toughness. These constructs are perfectly suited to frame the 4 strategies (VUCA) identified above.