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Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity

I recently read a blog about VUCA (an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) and was intrigued. For background on VUCA, which began in the 1990s and derives from military vocabulary, go to this link:,_uncertainty,_complexity_and_ambiguity

  • V = Volatility. The nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.

  • U = Uncertainty. The lack of predictability, the prospects for surprise, and the sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events.

  • C = Complexity. The multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues, no cause-and-effect chain and confusion that surround an organization.

  • A = Ambiguity. The haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion.

In an article on VUCA, Mr. Paul Kinsinger’s notes:

Countering VUCA requires:

  • Vision - an intent that seeks to create a future

  • Understanding - the ability to stop, look, and listen

  • Clarity - the ability to help make sense of the chaos

  • Agility - organizations where ”wirearchy” is rewarded over hierarchy

A Link to Mr. Kinsinger’s article: Adaptive Leadership for the VUCA World: A Tale of Two Managers

Harvard Business Review included this guide to identifying, getting ready for, and responding to events in each of the four VUCA categories:

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