VUCA Times - Time to think Smart

(Smart Processes, Smart Technology, Smart Data, Smart Devices)
Varad Kamini - Global Head – Marketing & Communications
VUCA or short for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity is a terminology borrowed from military parlance. Military scenarios are truly VUCA. They are volatile; you don’t know from where the next enemy ambush will present itself. They are uncertain; you don’t know if the nature will favor your expedition. They are complex; each expedition has a number of multi-variate dependencies. They are ambiguous; the territory is unknown. If you compare corporate scenarios to everyday military situations, they are nowhere near to comparison with the VUCA coefficient and Smart Thought Process that is dealt with by the military. Yet the VUCA perceptions in the corporate world are tumultuous because they influence the enterprise revenue and the national economy at large. 

VUCA Times – The Times to think Smart

Today we are living in a VUCA world. At times, we have geo-political circumstances threatening the economy of a particular country that send ripples throughout the world. And at other times we have uncalled for natural and manmade disasters, which tend to be a strain on the country’s economy.  However, a few self-imposed restraints in managing the state of affairs can bring in the much needed order in an otherwise VUCA world. 

  1. Optimize Cost: This aspect is the most basic. Derive value out of each dime that is spent. Prioritize on the factors that are essential for sustained growth and re-orient resources where they can be optimized.
  2. Make sustained strategic investments: This is a given. Make smart investments in future-oriented technology and build on core strengths.  Simple solutions based on new-age technologies, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Advanced Analytics, which are based on austere principles, start providing ~800% ROI within 3 years.
  3. Engage and motivate stakeholders: Employees, vendors, clients, etc. who are instrumental in building the fiber of the enterprise are all important. The relationship needs to be polished through periodic pep-talks. These dialogues go a long way in gathering support for the enterprise.
  4. Innovate: Innovate on a cutting edge.  Market Research reveals trends that are current or catching up and also the client sentiments. Use these treasure troves to innovate and build solutions. “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” and means so much more in a VUCA world.
  5. Imbibe Clarity of Vision: Vision and Mission statements are not just meant for the company website. They work as beacons and prove critical when deciding your pick between multiple courses of action. Penning a clear vision and mission statements for the enterprise provides a clear direction in a VUCA situation.
  6. Keep it Simple, Stupid: The KISS principle, again borrowed from the Navy, is a definite way to survive in a VUCA world. Decisions or even systems designs that are simple and straightforward perform the optimum best. Simple is the way forward in a VUCA world when a lot is left to winds of uncertainty. Think Smart Processes, Smart Technology, Smart Data and Smart Devices to survive VUCA.
  7. Anticipate and welcome change: In today’s world, change is the only constant and even so more in a VUCA environment. Envisage the direction of the winds that are blowing and make changes in your company policies and go-to-market strategies. If you see revenues from a particular revenue stream dwindling away, close it; if you see a new revenue stream emerging, adopt it.
  8. Be flexible: Enterprises need to be nimble footed. They should be able to scale-up and scale-down quickly as per customer requirements. This flexibility is desirous, which does not involve many changes at the enterprise level.
  9. Believe in yourself: Intuition plays a vital role in VUCA world where split-second decisions matter. Believe in yourself and don’t ignore that gut feeling. Technology provides all the statistics and dashboards at a glance but again it is a matter of selecting the right parameters to gather data. While selecting between options, heed your gut feeling.
  10. Create the change you want to see: Getting swayed by changes is one thing and creating the change you want to see is another thing. Seek dissonance to over-throw inertia and the associated evils but think integrated to maintain harmony.
  11. Make your employees your brand advocates: Last but not the least; make your employees your brand ambassadors. Your human resources play many vital roles, right from keeping the business-as-usual up and running, playing enterprise brand advocates to recruitment consultants. These armies prove to be multi-tasking forces especially in VUCA times.


VUCA times are here for sure. Surviving VUCA is as simple as disciplining your own thought processes as a military commander would. Seeking the discipline within one’s own self helps to see through situations and make alterations on-the-go to survive change. VUCA is not a scourge; it is a blessing to elevate your game to the next level. The easiest course of survival is thinking smart and hanging on to your enterprise mission statements and amending them on the way towards upping the game of the ecosystem.