Written by Admin | On November 2, 2022

Thriving in a VUCA World    

The stability of the past has been replaced by the turbulent present and an unpredictable future, the global Covid-19 pandemic, rising inflation, a coming recession, and a war that has spiked world tension. These events have opened our eyes to the reality that disruption to the status quo is inevitable. The global Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically damaged the global economy and has brought about one of the worst recessions in decades. Businesses shut down, Governments declared lockdowns, and disrupted society due to health protocols. We are living in an unpredictable and ever-changing world. Twenty years ago, who could have predicted that organizations would shift to work-from-home or hybrid setups for work? We truly are living in a VUCA world because according to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, about 66% of companies were forced to redesign their offices to accommodate a hybrid work setup.    

VUCA is an acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It is a description of the rapidly changing environment individuals, and organizations find themselves working in today.    

VUCA Explained    

The term VUCA was first coined in military settings as a way to describe environments that are highly unpredictable and dangerous. However, the term is now commonly applied to businesses and leadership, especially in an increasingly fast-paced, challenging, and interconnected world.    

Volatility: The scale, unpredictability, and speed of any changes or disruptions. For example, there is a fluctuation in the price of gas which greatly disrupts an organization’s supply chain.    

Uncertainty: The randomness of life and the unreliability of predicting the future. Launching an entirely new product that could disrupt the existing market is an example of this

Complexity: Large amounts of factors, each variable having different relationships, creating chaos and difficulty. For example, an organization that operates in various diverse countries, all with unique regulations, environments, and cultures.    

Ambiguity: The lack of clarity or understanding of circumstances.  An organization joining an emerging market with unknown features  


Traits to Thrive in a Turbulent World    

Growth Mentality:   

Never be stagnant because that guarantees failure in the future. Learning new skills and knowledge allows you to stay relevant and up to date with your competition. As such, you must be willing to constantly learn and upskill yourself so that you do not just survive but thrive in a VUCA world.    

Balanced Risk and Reward Management:   

To succeed in life and in business, you need to take risks. However, it is crucial that you carefully manage your risks and rewards to ensure that you do not overcommit and harm yourself in the process. Additionally, it is essential to remember that there is no reward without risks. If you do not take risks, you are stagnant and will eventually be left behind by your competition. As such, you must carefully find the right balance for you and your needs regarding risk management.    


 It is undeniable that change is a constant in life and work, but in the VUCA world, it is even less predictable and far more frequent. This is why, adaptability is a skill to have, especially now during the global pandemic, which has significantly disrupted entire industries and every facet of life. Work environments and work cultures have drastically shifted. As such, being flexible would allow you to respond to changing circumstances and to appropriately adapt to these disturbances, which could mean the difference between failing and thriving in a VUCA world.    


 We are often forced to accomplish our tasks with fewer resources or make do with the resources that we currently have. This could mean we have to sacrifice some less important parts to focus on more critical areas and achieve overall success.    


 There will always be challenges and hardships blocking your way toward your goals. What is important is your grit to keep going when things are tough. You must be willing to respond and overcome difficult situations like adversity, loss, and change.    



Thrive with VUCA 2.0     

Bill George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School, developed the term VUCA 2.0. He changed the meaning of each letter in the acronym to guide individuals and organizations on how to thrive in a VUCA world.   

Vision – Individuals and organizations must have a clear idea of what their plans, strategies, and goals are supposed to be so that they can push past the chaos caused by a VUCA world. Knowing your vision for yourself and the organization would allow you to make intelligent decisions that ultimately lead you to accomplish your goals.    

Understanding – To thrive in a VUCA world, both individuals and organizations must first understand their capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses to capitalize on rapidly shifting situations by capitalizing on strengths and minimizing weaknesses. Additionally, there should be an attempt to gain various sources of information from diverse sources and viewpoints to enhance the understanding of the situation and reduce the risk of narrowing your point of view.    

Courage – To succeed in a VUCA world, you must make quick and decisive decisions. Significant change often comes with great opportunities for success, but they also could quickly disappear in a blink of an eye. Individuals and organizations must be brave enough to take the risk and grab the opportunity.    

Adaptability – In times of distress, it is not the strongest or most intelligent that often survive, but those capable of change. Flexibility, adaptability, and agility are essential qualities to thrive in a VUCA world. Responding appropriately to changing circumstances will help you overcome any unforced challenge or obstacle.    

 The world is constantly changing, the skills required today might be irrelevant tomorrow. As such, it is vital that you strive to continuously upskill yourself to future-proof your career. Partner with SSA Philippines to find the right developmental course for you!  

Related articles