Faculty@ Amity Lucknow: Why Should You Know About VUCA Environment

1.To start off, please give us the history of what is a VUCA environment and how was it realized?

Business leaders struggle for understanding of their environments to develop strategies that improve their organizational performance and keep their edge on the competition. There is an increasing complexity, pace and multitude of challenges combined with opportunities. VUCA is an acronym that has been borrowed from military terminology, gaining popularity in business strategic leadership theory in the 1990’s.

The term VUCA represents Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. It describes four (4) discrete challenges demanding 4 different modes of responses. The overall purpose is to understand the VUCA environment in advance and measure the challenges that need to be encountered.

Volatility signifies an organization’s need to have the agility and flexibility to act fast in positioning themselves. Uncertainty characterizes the lack of predictability and chance for surprise in changing markets. Complexity talks about the challenges, chaos, confusion and complications confronting business leaders today. Ambiguity, characterizes lack of clarity in the conceptualization of organizational threats and opportunities before advancement to fatal levels.

2.Why is understanding the VUCA environment relevant to leadership development?

It emphasises upon:

· Application to business strategy and development

· How VUCA can impact towards leadership development in the life stages of the Firm.

· It also discusses the “VUCA Prime,” focusing on vision and clarity to lead.

· What HR and talent managers must do to change their leadership development approach to foster leadership?

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3.Can “VUCA Prime” be considered a solution?

A good model using VUCA Prime consists of:

1. Vision – having a clear picture of the purpose of your business and where you are going

2. Understanding – the leader takes the time to stop, look and listen to what is happen, this is beyond their functional expertise and beyond just their business.

3. Clarity – the leader needs to spend the time and effort in deliberately working to make sense of the chaos that exists.

4. Agility – the ability to communicate openly across the organization and to move quickly to apply solutions, the rapid prototyping of ideas & actions to develop solutions.

4.Please suggest on how HR and talent managers can change their approach to foster out of the box thinking to counter the VUCA environment

· Volatility can be countered with vision as vision is even more vital in turbulent times.

· Uncertainty can be countered with understanding, the ability of a leader to stop, look, and listen.

· Complexity can be countered with clarity, the deliberative process to make sense of the chaos.

· Ambiguity can be countered with agility, the ability to communicate across the organization and to move quickly to apply solutions.

HR perspective is to understand the VUCA environment in advance and create/mutate leaders that can mitigate the risks of being embroiled by it.

NOTE: for details and illustrative cases watch out for a Print of the “The VUCA company”, authored by Mr Suhayl Abidi and Dr Manoj Joshi, forthcoming JAICO International publishers.  

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