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Published by: Dr. George Cheriyan
Published Date: 9/10/2022

VUCA is an acronym, first used in 1987, based on the leadership theories of Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus.
It is expanded to Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.

Situations like wars, recessions, economic depressions, global supply-chain disruptions, epidemics and pandemics, can put companies through unexpected and extreme difficulties.

Supplies might stop, production can slow down, employees might not turn up to work, and sales might fall; all because of a VUCA environment that can come up.

Often, being unprepared for these types of situations, companies and their leaders struggle to take decisions. But, we know that leaders are responsible for the lion’s share of the decisions about the parameters that define how their organizations can operate.

The increase in volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity means that the leader and the business must also seek new orientation on how to manage in these circumstances.

How quickly the leaders change, adapt, and adjust to the changing environment determines how their managerial skills are in the VUCA world.

The VUCA concept takes a fresh approach to management and leadership to guarantee positive results under changed circumstances.

The VUCA world challenges you to find your own way.

Extensive analysis by Dr Burke and colleagues from Colombia University has identified nine behaviours that make up learning agility and will help you as an individual thrive in a VUCA environment:

  1. Flexibility – willingness to try new things

  2. Speed – rapidly grasping new ideas

  3. Experimenting – testing out new ideas

  4. Performance risk taking– taking on challenges

  5. Interpersonal risk taking – asking others for help

  6. Collaborating – leveraging the skills of others from different functions

  7. Information gathering – increasing your knowledge

  8. Feedback seeking – asking for feedback

  9. Reflecting – taking time to reflect on your effectiveness

Good leaders will know how to manage in VUCA environments too, by displaying appropriate behaviours, which could be a blend of the above, which is often situation-specific.


Published by

Dr. George Cheriyan

Dr. George Cheriyan is the Corporate CEO and Chief Medical Officer of the American Mission Hospital, Kingdom of Bahrain

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