Talk about strategy, risk management or change and it is inevitable that the acronym VUCA — short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity—will come up. VUCA is basically a catchall for “Hey, it’s crazy out there!” And like many catch-all’s it is misleading, VUCA conflates four distinct types of challenges that demand four distinct types of responses. VUCA can quickly become a crutch, a way to throw off the hard work of strategy and planning—after all, you can’t prepare for a VUCA world, right?
The mistake folks often make here is treating these four traits as a single idea, which leads to poorer decision making.
VUCA really isn’t a tool. It’s a checklist of four things that hopefully your system is paying attention to. All four represent distinct elements that make our environment and organization harder to grasp and control.