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How to cope with the ”VUCA-year 2023"? By reversing the VUCA!

After two years of pandemic, and a 2022 with war in Ukraine, European energy crisis and global inflation, most things point to 2023 being a real "VUCA year". A volatile, uncertain, complex and ambigious year. The question is how to handle this? It's about "turning the VUCA" and having methods for it, says Per Lagerström, Head of Marketing & Communication at Junglemap.

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Portrait of Communications Director Per Lagerström

Per Lagerström, Head of Marketing & Communication at Junglemap.

The term VUCA, which describes a state characterized by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity is said to have been coined by the American defense industriy already in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center over twenty years ago. But even if it may have been something of the new normal since then, it feels as if it really frames the state of the world around us right now.

There is no doubt that a VUCA-environment leads to high level of stress on both individuals and organizations. Increased anxiety, lower motivation, crushed or overturned future plans, bad decision-making and a worse business climate, follows VUCA in its wake.

All the more important to consider how we deal with this negative VUCA existence. Both as individuals, companies and organisations. It's really about keeping the acronym, but turning the meaning 180 degrees.

  1. Counter volatility with vision
    The more things shake, the clearer visions are needed. A first important step is to start by accepting and acknowledging that change is the new normal, and then create a clear vision based on these conditions.
  2. Face uncertainty with understanding
    Increased uncertainty also needs to lead to the need for increased analysis. Both within the own industry and outside. And customer's needs and challenges need to be in focus. Work with scenario planning: "If it turns out like this, what do we do?" “Does this plan work if X happens?” - those types of questions need to be included in the planning work for next year.
  3. Respond to complexity with clarity
    Complex is often confused with complicated. But these two are completely different things. Complicated things are hard to do, but can be done again. Complexity means that we often need to do things in a completely new way. And to fix this, two things are required: increased clarity in the management’s strategic communication, as well as an increased need for well-composed and multi-competent teams. Because complex challenges cannot be solved with one type of competence. And above all, not on your own.
  4. Combat ambiguity with agility
    It’s not a black or white type of situation. It’s both. And the more difficult something is to interpret, the greater the need for an agile approach and way of working. Going into 2023 with the idea that "let’s work according to plan" will not be a good idea. Better then plan with the starting point that every single roadmap will need to be redone and changed along the way. And this requires that the entire organization is given the opportunity to work agile.

An inverted VUCA environment like this provides a prerequisite for what all companies and organizations must strive for - an increased resilience. The ability not only to adapt, but also to recreate and innovate operations and value in constant change.

Junglemap invented NanoLearning over 15 years ago. It's basically a method that creates learning that produces long-term behavioral changes. But it is also a method and a tool for those who really want to "turn the VUCA around". It’s not enough just to know what we need to do, but also how. And with communication methods that really work.

Article   November 18 2022