VUCA prep. What’s that?

VUCA – have you heard of that acronym? It stands for:

Volatility    Uncertainty   Complexity   Ambiguity

It comes from military strategists but from where I sit it could be easily applicable in the business world.

I’ve lived through a few mergers and acquisitions in my career. And if your experience is anything like mine it felt like I lived the VUCA life everyday after an acquisition. Uncertainty and ambiguity of what’s next constantly filled the minds of employees which in turn, I believe, led to a self-implied sense of volatility. Read this as “Recipe for disaster”.

The smart folks at Harvard Business Review published a guide to VUCA in 2014. You can get your copy here: What VUCA really means to you. The interesting thing pointed out in the article is there is confusion about identifying the fact you’re living in a VUCA state and using a chart to establish the right responses to the challenges. They created a handy guide that will help you with both.

So let’s say you have the guide near your desk at all times. Great! Now what?

I think it’s good to use this tool as a communication device. Let it guide your conversations with employees who are suffering from confusion, ambiguity in their jobs or goals, etc. Establish what are the challenges and develop appropriate responses to them. The business world we live in today is extemely complex. It’s even more complex when you roll in high revenue growth goals, post-merger integration projects, new product innovation needs and a host of other things – oh yea, and you may want to have a personal life with its own complexities.

VUCA may not be an everyday term for you but it probably has some resonance once you read through the guide. If your employees read this post and the guide and their “Aha!” light comes on, you may have an opportunity to re-engage them. Read through the 4 Steps to Employee Engagement to help you take appropriate response to the challenges.

Here’s a TIP – Add VUCA to your M&A procedure guide. Put in VUCA checkpoints into your M&A process as a “sanity check” during planning, integration, and post integration evaluations. Your employees will thank you for it!