At this year’s Vinpro Information Day, Vinpro consultation services manager Conrad Schutte said the industry is currently doing business in a “VUCA” world that requires us to think differently. What does this mean and what new concepts and tools do we need to navigate a chaotic and unpredictable world?
VUCA, the acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, describes a situation where there are so many simultaneous variables and challenges that strategies created to address a clearly visible problem no longer work. The usual solutions might even make things worse.
Volatility: describes the suddenness with which big and small changes can occur.
Uncertainty: means the future becomes harder to predict based on past experience.
Complexity: indicates the many layers and interconnected systems involved.
Ambiguity: conveys the difficulty of discerning options or plotting a clear course.
Over the past 70 years, professional futurists have developed tools and techniques for making sense of VUCA environments and navigating their inherent uncertainty. It involves the study of complex interacting systems in which components continually reorganise themselves in relation to one another and their environment.
As a result the system exhibits new or emergent properties that can’t be traced back to any of its parts. No wonder that addressing this challenge is regarded as one of the most pressing issues of our time. Complexity thinking offers a way to understand how a community, organisation or living system actually behaves in the real world.
In a complex system, the relationships between all the elements are far more important than their individual positions or functions at any given moment. The interactions are also non-linear, so it’s hard to know what kinds of changes will produce what types of outcomes. When a Boeing breaks down, it’s relatively easy to isolate the problem and replace a broken part, but problems in a complex system have no simple solutions. They require skills of a different kind.
Our vision of the future affects the choices and decisions we make today. An uncertain future requires a new way of looking at things.
Risks and opportunities
Together, the organisational, transactional and contextual domains …