The US military did not invent the term VUCA!

By VUCA Blog

Where does the term VUCA come from?

First described in 1985 by two economists and university professors, Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, in their book “Leaders. The Strategies For Taking Charge” the challenges of various external factors for management and leadership and what consequences these have for corporate management. The acronym (made-up word) VUCA was found for the four phenomena Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, which have a decisive effect and need to be taken into account.

Nanus Bennis

In the early 1990s, VUCA was the US Army War College’s response to the collapse of the USSR. With the demise of the “Eastern Bloc” as “the one enemy,” and the end of the Cold War, the goal was to find and implement new ways of seeing and responding under conditions of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

Why is the origin of VUCA often associated with the US military?

Mike Schindler (Award-winning author, US Navy Veteran, One of the US nation’s foremost experts on veteran issues and individual/team leadership) gives me a concrete answer in our last conversation:

“Military is never reactive. It’s always responsive!”

The military is never reactive. It’s always responsive – what’s the difference?
It’s about preparation, anticipation, exploration, evaluation, adaptation.
VUCA Positive Prime according to Bob Johansen from 2007 paraphrases exactly these requirements. It needs vision, understanding, clarity and adaptability or agility.

It is precisely this understanding that is at stake today and will be more important than ever in the future. What is needed is VUCA management and VUCA leadership and an awareness of the solutions that lie within them. The analysis of how volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity affect individuals must and can be responded to in the form of approaches, solutions and concrete measures.
This is the basis for my very personal attitude, which says,

“Luckily, it’s only VUCA!”