WHAT DOES VUCA mean? The term VUCA was created by the United States Army War College to describe the state of the world after the Cold War. The simple clash of capitalist and communist systems was replaced by multiple threats from unpredictable rogue states and terrorist threats. The term has since been adopted by the business community to describe how security, predictability and simple cause and effect relationships have been replaced by turbulence, unpredictability and rapid change. Some of the trends driving VUCA for business include the shift in economic power from West to East, demographic change, the disruptive rise of digital technologies, as well as continuing globalisation. These forces affect every organisation in some way. In other words, VUCA has become the new normal.
Every time I mention the word VUCA in my coaching sessions or in conversations with clients I see a lot of head nodding. It is always welcomed by signs of relief and phrases like: ‘So, it is not only me! It is not just my personal perception!’
If VUCA is the ‘illness’ then the discovery phase of understanding the symptoms for the person includes coming across sensations as: feeling overwhelmed, being in a state of paralysis and anxiety, sensing heaviness and alienation. Fire-fighting and riding the waves of constant high-pressure states are the normal reaction to VUCA. ‘As long as my body and my mind can take it, I will carry on’. This is what I hear again and again.
Then THE question is asked: ‘What is the solution? What can I do?’
Unfortunately (or fortunately!) VUCA is not an illness and there is no straightforward solution. But what about looking at it from a different perspective?
Stability feels good. Operating within comfort zones is reassuring. Following rules is comfortable and easy. But does VUCA really require us to completely give up stability? I don’t think so…I believe that what it does is that it makes us find a safe enough level of stability within ourselves. In other terms, it forces us to counterbalance the fast-moving pace of change by consciously taking time to reflect over what we are and where we want to go.
In other words, VUCA invites us to really be serious about self-discovery and self-awareness because the most authentic representation of VUCA is the human being. Coming to terms with the fact that VUCA is not an external negative reality but an extension of our normal self allows to make a significant shift of perspective and see VUCA as an ally instead of an enemy to destroy.
So, my question is:
How can you transform your inner VUCA into your permanent and conscious strength that can really help you make a difference in leading yourself and, therefore, others?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianna Amy Crestani is Head of the Coaching Practice at TCO International – Accelerating Global Agility. With over 25 years’ experience, we have supported more than 60,000 people in over 100 organisations across 140 countries. We provide customised solutions and open workshops for individuals, teams and entire organisations in the area of global agility. For more information or questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org.