I may be lagging behind a bit – I discovered the term “VUCA” only this week. The words this acronym stands for are, however, well known and present for everyone concerned with strategy and management these days.
Management theory and practice widely accept today that businesses operate in a more and more complex, dynamic, less predictable environment. Until now, I never managed to describe these environmental conditions in less than a whole sentence. From now on, I can use just four letters:
VUCA stands for:
… or as Nathan Bennett and G. James Lemoine put it in an HBR article:
“Hey, it’s crazy out there!”
I picked up the term VUCA in Paul Hobcraft’s recent article The sharks that prey are arriving a lot earlier now (highly recommended reading, by the way). There, Paul quotes from the book Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change by Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Soloman. I had to get that book immediately, started reading, and now take the liberty to give you a slightly longer quote from that book:
“VUCA world is a bit like an amusement park: it’s full of thrilling rides – just not all of them are fun. It’s a world where stock prices swing wildly from one week to another and entire industries become features in larger ecosystems. A world where new competitors pop up out of nowhere and disruptive technologies wipe out entrenched business models overnight. A world where a political coup or a tsunami on the other side of the planet can disrupt markets in surprising ways. …
In VUCA world, organizations face constant surprises from all directions.
By the time you think you’ve got an important market trend figured out, it’s already moved on.”
That is a perfect description of today’s business environment.