VUCA – from management training to the front line
The term VUCA first appeared in a management book in the middle of the 80s. The acronym describes an increasingly confusing environment. But it only gained widespread attraction when it was used by the American War College in its curriculum following the fall of the Wall in 1989.
This event and all the changes that followed instantly threw the military doctrine of the Cold War into question. After thirty years of constancy, the US armed forces needed a new strategy for a changed reality: what should we do now, and how? VUCA became the basis for leadership training courses that helped people remain capable of acting at every level.
Challenges of leadership amid digital transformation
The four terms volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity describe the nature of the VUCA environment in which we and our workforce have to act now and in the future. The topic on everyone’s lips is change in businesses. We need change management. Digital transformation is accelerating change and innovation cycles are becoming shorter. This is causing volatility.
Nobody can predict what anything is going to be like, or which start-up will destroy the which multinational next. Cause and effect can no longer be identified in the VUCA environment. We are making more misjudgements because we cannot resolve ambiguous signals. All this we have to endure.
Complexity is more than just complicated
Digital transformation has a new quality. We can no longer respond to the challenges of the present using the strategies of the past. There were complicated challenges back then, but we were able to surmount them by analysing them and concentrating on the essentials. Today’s complex processes cannot be reduced in that way without them breaking apart.
Agile organisations: a way to the future
Changing corporate culture is right at the top of the to-do list for businesses in the VUCA world. We have to respond more quickly to requirements, develop things more creatively and serve our customers better. To achieve this we will have to revise some of the belief systems that still persist in many organisations.
For instance: the belief that the boss knows everything. Today, everyone has to learn how to learn from each other and with each other. We need new leadership skills. Conventional departmental thinking makes us slow and prevents teams from feeling responsible together for the customer and their project.