What is VUCA and How Does it Affect You?

What do we need to do for this “E-VUCA” age?

I am sure you have heard of the term VUCA by now. It is being used so often that one may think it is a real word, to begin with. Yes, we would since our business and leadership literature refers to it to describe the world we live in today. In case, you are one of the few who still don’t know what this means, let me tell you that you are lucky and probably the least stressed person in the world! For the record, I will let you know what VUCA means – it is an acronym for 4 words describing the world we live in today – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.

Volatile – change is rapid and unpredictable in its nature and extent.

Uncertain – the present is unclear and the future is uncertain.

Complex – many different, interconnected factors come into play, with the potential to cause chaos and confusion.

Ambiguous – there is a lack of clarity or awareness about situations.

Now many of us may say that this has always been the state of the world from Day 1! True maybe, the world evolves at such a fast pace so that is how it feels. However, it has become much more magnified currently due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has brought exponential disruptive changes to individuals, teams, businesses, and society as a whole. Prior to that, one of the biggest drivers for disruption in the past was being brought upon us by major technology advances but now the Pandemic is forcing us to transform and embrace these advances in a rapid fashion.

Hence, we coined the term E-VUCA which means Exponential VUCA. This may mean different things to different people though. Hence in our leadership workshops, we facilitate the groups to answer the question of what this means to them in their business and life context. These discussions tend to be rich and lively and give the participants a better understanding of what it means to them, how it affects them on a regular basis and why they end up not doing the things needed to ease and flow smoothly through these times.

How we approach today’s crisis is extremely critical for all of us and our organizations. It has become a given that these times will continue and as a matter of fact, may even be exacerbated in the future. The effects of these times, unfortunately, create distress in minds, and with that comes the exact opposite of what we should be doing. Our limbic system regards this as a threat and danger and we feel fear, anxiety, worry, anger amongst other emotions. This results in us having a scarcity mindset as we seek to protect our turf against this perceived danger. We compete instead of collaborating with others, our vision becomes much more short term than needed, we make things more complicated, we become more negative than positive and ultimately, we perceive that we have fewer resources to handle problems than needed. Which then eventually also starts in people getting into the blame game!

The mindset shifts that must be made are imperative. Instead of what we describe above, we need to start with having a growth mindset – a learn it all attitude rather than a know it all attitude. In the process, we learn to be more innovative for new solutions, we learn to be agile to change directions when outcomes are not being reached, we learn to be positive and see abundance instead of scarcity and also we learn to be resilient in order to weather the storm along the way and bounce back when things don’t go the way we want. That is why our new Resilience@Work E-Workshop focuses on how we can learn to be resilient by understanding what our capacities we can fall back on or develop as a result. It also on developing routines and structures that processes and buffers against frequently changing experiences, which could be overwhelming for the individual.

Sounds like a tall order? But it really can be done – it all starts with a growth mindset and understanding that we do not know it all, but we can learn it all together collaboratively with others! We will be focusing more on resilience and other shifts in mindsets we mentioned earlier in the article and these will be areas that we will address in our workshops coming up later this year.

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