EMBRACING UNCERTAINTY

This article is published on the MSSBTI.com  website. David is Executive Director of the MSS Business Transformation Institute.


If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.” -Tom Peters Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution


The world has become VUCA.

After the Cold War, the US Military came to something of a revelation. Without a clear power counterbalance from the USSR, the world became a much more challenging place. Suddenly, they were in a situation without a single, clear, predictable enemy but many potential adversaries who were unknown, remote, loosely organized, and hard to detect with diverse, indeterminable motivations. The new challenges ranged from global terrorist organizations to warlords and pirates in Africa to sudden geo-political shifts such as Arab Spring. The term created for this new reality was VUCA:

  • Volatile: The rate of change is accelerating and exponentially impactful
  • Uncertain: We cannot know everything and must be prepared for anything
  • Complex: Multiple forces influence decisions and make implications precarious
  • Ambiguous: The context, cause and meaning of events are unclear.

While the VUCA principle was generally understood in the early 1990’s, the transformation to the new reality was, unfortunately, measured. It was more comfortable to find a new great adversary, such as China, so that the focus would again be clear. Then, 9/11 illuminated the situation and transformation accelerated. Read more

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