The current corona crisis shows very clearly how well VUCA reflects the current reality.
Article by Jan Bauer - He takes care of the topic of change/cultural change in the Siemens Energy Group and inspires employees that change can be fun.
Many people are now working in their home office, perhaps for the first time in their working lives. Others are on short-time work or may be facing the end of their own business. Still others are struggling with their children at home because kindergartens and schools have closed and the children do not want to understand that it is not a holiday or vacation. The outbreak of the Covid-19 virus is causing the government to take drastic measures. Every day new information is coming in about what you can/can't do and what to watch out for. All these things have been unpredictable for us, but they happened overnight and we are forced to adapt to the situation. Things that were self-evident for us (kindergartens, schools, open shops, sufficient, stable income, inviting the neighbour for a beer and celebrating Easter together with the family) are suddenly no longer there or possible. This describes very well what we understand by volatility. This extreme dynamic of change is a catalyst for radical changes in our lives.
How often do I hear in the last days, when can I open my shop again, when are we allowed to move freely again, when am I allowed to write my high school diploma or from the children: When can we go to the playground with our friends again? What impact will the country's shutdown have on the economy? Will the many small craftsmen/grocery stores/farmers still exist? These questions could be continued at will at the moment and yet they all have one thing in common and that is uncertainty, which is currently reflected by the second letter "U" in VUCA. Predictability of events are decreasing rapidly, forecasts and experiences from the past as a basis for shaping the future increasingly lose their validity and relevance. Planning investments, developments and growth becomes almost impossible.
No one can currently predict with any accuracy whether the restrictions made are the right ones and sufficient to contain the Covid-19 virus. Different levels of these restrictions are mixed up, which tear apart known, well-functioning relationships and make them unclear. The decisions that politicians have been making in the last few weeks have to be made on the basis of the most complex interrelationships (spread of the virus vs. restriction of freedom vs. economic consequences vs. social problems vs. political consequences) and it is hardly possible to make a clear statement whether we are on the right track. The gross domestic product for this year will collapse extremely, the unemployment figures will rise rapidly, the tourist regions around the Mediterranean will have no holidaymakers and perhaps we too will increasingly walk through the city centres wearing face masks in the future. Here we are at the 3rd letter "C", for Complexity.
We see that every country uses different strategies to fight and spread the virus and that these, see USA, turn 180° within a very short time. Sure, it also depends on the culture and local legislation, but there is no such thing as the "one size fits all" approach. These regional decisions require courage and awareness. Because it is not only black and white, it can also be colourful. The consequences and possible future scenarios after the Corona Pandemic also take completely different paths, from total isolation, a worldwide system crash or a reflection on local values to the adaptation that we adapt better to the circumstances and are more flexible in dealing with change.
The last letter, the "A" in VUCA, stands for ambiguity and is intended to express on the one hand that in the rapidly changing world it is no longer possible to describe reality unambiguously, but on the other hand that it is also impossible to find the right answer.
How do we want to deal with this?
- we have to drive in this unknown, fast and unpredictably changing terrain exclusively on sight We have to change our approach/plan as fast as we have new knowledge and cannot rely on long-term plans.
- we must not try to apply known solutions to completely unknown problems.
- we must stop nonsensical activities and strengthen the skills we need right now and improve our ability to learn and adapt.
Stay healthy in this VUCA world.