Is VUCA Increasing?

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The world is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. This insight has been shared across the military, the business world, and other domains where survival strategies matter most. Those who don’t adapt will die.

But is there more VUCA now than there was in the past?

Looking back in time, it seems that VUCA has been going up and down in different ways. For example, not long ago, farmers had to endure the unpredictability of weather conditions. (And in some parts of the world, they still have to.) But nowadays, thanks to modern technologies, farmers placed the effects of changing weather patterns largely under their control. However, new global trends, such as climate change and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), have emerged as a different source of uncertainty and complexity.

VUCA has been going up and down in different ways.

Similarly, VUCA has been going up and down in various ways in healthcare. Historically, millions of people around the world have died as a result of terrible diseases such as cholera, the Black Plague, the Spanish Flu, and HIV/AIDS. These days, technological progress has enabled humanity to develop much faster responses to health crises such as the Ebola virus and (at the time of writing) the Coronavirus. But what will be the side-effects of new developments such as bioengineering and genome experiments? The future certainly looks ambiguous and volatile.

Technological progress often cuts in two ways. New, innovative products create more order and certainty in some specific ways. (That’s what people usually pay for.) But they result in more disorder and uncertainty in other ways, with unintended consequences and externalities. And then, the cycle of continuous innovation can start all over. In other words, continuous innovation both addresses and generates VUCA.

Continuous innovation both addresses and generates VUCA.

As a result, there is more change than ever before.

The adoption of new technologies is now a matter of months rather than years.

 

New technologies replace each other every few years instead of every few decades.

 

And companies die faster than ever unless they adopt continuous innovation practices.

The world of business is now super-connected. Business cycles are getting shorter and shorter, with an abundance of technologies enabling competition in unexpected ways.

How does your company deal with VUCA and change?

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