Living in a VUCA world


I met an interesting navy veteran last week who stated that “We are living in a VUCA world.” He went on to explain that VUCA was originally a military term that stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. The unfortunate events in Hawaii last Saturday put an exclamation point on this statement.

Imagine, you are on a beach in Maui taking a smartphone picture of your child playing in the surf when an Emergency Alert flashes onto the screen; BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

I believe that five years ago my initial thought would’ve been that a hacker was messing with me. Given current VUCA conditions I know that my initial thoughts would’ve been overwhelming panic.

North Korea has been testing intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear explosions. The USA will not accept North Korea as a nuclear power and North Korea isn’t showing any signs of changing course. Volatility.

Is it possible to reach a peaceful solution or is war inevitable? Uncertainty.

This has potential to affect the entire world. History of past conflicts, current relationships and differing desired outcomes. Complexity

Do we have a clear understanding of North Korea’s intentions? Can we trust the information we receive? Ambiguity.


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