Dealing with VUCA

VUCA stars for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. I have to look it up every time. It has become a catchphrase for the ongoing disruption that we are facing. If you talk to older entrepreneurs, they would claim that VUCA has always been part of their life. I do not doubt that for a minute. The question is if there is an accelerant that is making it VUCA on steroids.


By now, we have alternatives to VUCA such as RUPT (Rapid, Unpredictable, Paradoxical, and Tangled), BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Non-linear and Incomprehensible), and TUNA (Turbulent, Uncertain, Novel and Ambiguous).


It is what it is. How do you deal with it? Start with simplifying. There is an ocean of information, and you need to narrow it down. Create the glass hull of a boat: the strategic lens, prism or lens. Brain O´Kane and I created the strategy filter. Six strategic statements create the frame or the lens you use to examine your environment. Vision, mission, passion, values, positions and resourcing. You could add sales as a lens (without sales, there is no company), and I am sure there are sector-specific statements you should add. 

Back to the core

The faster you go, the further you need to look ahead. That is from “Future vision”. You cannot outrun or catch up with the technology developments. Which means you have to slow down. As a company and as a person. Back to the core of your business. Guiding principles, Your reason for being. Your purpose. Creating meaning. Authenticity. No one can compete with you on these. 

Your mind

That also means you need to create a still mind. Meditation, back to nature, stoicism, mindset and thinking about thinking. Cultivating an optimistic and opportunity attitude. Fear is a bad advisor. Working on your ideaflow.

Change muscle

You need to develop your change muscle or your adaptability quotient (AQ). That means creating a collective awareness of the changes in your environment and constantly training the different responses, for example, scenario planning or strategic gaming.

Situational awareness

That all starts with situational awareness. You are what you eat. Your thinking is highly influenced by the information you consume. For most of us, that is at the level of McDonalds. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Are you aware of your environment?
  • Do you have an information dashboard?
  • Does your company have an information dashboard?
  • How many in your company use an information dashboard?
  • Do you scan on an ongoing basis?
  • Are you passive, reactive or proactive?
  • How is the scanning distributed in your company?
  • Is the scanning linked to scenario planning?

Information Dashboard

To improve the quality of your information consumption, you need to design what I call an information dashboard with sources of high-quality information relevant to you and your business. You should follow sources, companies and VCs, start-ups you should be aware of and map the thought leaders and gurus. Track the competitors. Look beyond the borders. Look at development in counties such as Korea, Taiwan, China, Brazil, the USA, India, etc.


Include some active serendipity and content from the fringes. To ensure you do not create a filter bubble. Including reading science fiction and playing Xbox.

The signals

Look for the words, the weak signals, product introductions, and the new technologies, and consider where you are on the pendulum of change. Everything is action and reaction. Think it through in its extreme and assume an exponential effect. Where could it go? Where will it go? You can take it that science fiction is now science fact. The lego effect, where everything is interchangeable, combined with exponential, will make everything possible. 

Hard or soft trends

Consider which trends are hard and which ones are soft. Hard trends are demographics and relations; soft trends are the weak signals of what may or may not happen. For example, blockchain versus cryptocurrency. Also consider also singularity, immortality, fusion, quantum computers, replicators, etc.


This brings me to my view on what the trends will be. Here it goes. Trend number one is climate change and going circular in particular. Adjacent to those are trends in water, soil and the expectation that companies are getting sued for the damage they have inflicted on the environment. I expect that mushrooms/fungi will become huge. So will synthetic biology. There is a lot happening with voice and ears, and then there are the brain interfaces, implants, augmentation, transhumanism and VR. Utopian or dystopian? 3D and 4D will change distribution and manufacturing. It is not if but when (and it always takes longer).

Technology abstraction

The trend I am most fascinated about technology abstraction and citizen development. Low code and no code in all kinds of technologies such as software, AI (chatGPT as an example), CRISPR, robotics, and soon others will follow. Combine that with the open-source movement, and you have a powerful source of change. Combine that with techno-socialism, a concept that Brett King developed (short of Bank 3.0), where millennials will take over and with their value systems, it becomes a source of good. 

Be gymnastic

That brings you back to the beginning. How do you deal with VUCA? A strategic filter, a position on the pendulum, back to core and an ability to adapt quickly. I had the pleasure of working with Sunil Prashara, the ex-president of the Project Management Institute. He describes that ability as the gymnastic organisation. The organisation as a fit and healthy as a top athlete that trains all the time. Ambidextrous, agile, with the ability to turn on a dime.

sensemaking cover


Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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