Thriving in a VUCA World

Last week I had the opportunity to hear a leadership specialist share her ideas on personal growth and leadership.  During her talk she discussed the importance of using VUCA as the starting point for all strategic leadership and planning activities.

What is VUCA?
VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.  First used in the late 1990s by the US Army War College, VUCA is the assumed starting place for most war game activities.  Over the last 10 years VUCA has been increasingly applied to strategic leadership in the corporate and nonprofit world.

The speaker’s point is that we must each, individually, apply VUCA to our personal planning activities.  As you are building your personal plan, it’s no longer adequate, or even safe, to say ‘I like the status quo’.  In most scenarios, the status quo is not a realistic long-term assumption.  Our world is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. As a result, our personal visioning and strategic planning activities must presume change. The term ‘What If’ must be included in every planning activity and your personal vision needs to be flexible enough to adapt to a wide range of future environments.

Pressure Testing Against VUCA
If you don’t have a personal vision statement or a strategic plan for your future, I would encourage you to begin working on this. If you already have a personal vision statement, you need to begin pressure testing it.  Ask tough questions. If your vision statement isn’t sufficiently resilient or flexible, evolve your vision to encompass more eventualities.

None of us know the future because the future is VUCA.  We cannot control what comes next, we can only control our reaction. The more carefully you’ve thought about the alternatives the more likely you will make the right decision at the right time.

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