Halamka: Facing down VUCA, and doing the right thing


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How do IT leaders deal with unpredictable demand, increasing expectations, constantly changing technologies, escalating compliance requirements and fixed budgets? They need to accept and manage VUCA.

You probably know VUCA even if you don't know the acronym. It stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. It arose in a military context in the 1990s, when VUCA might have been used in reference to Somalia, for example. More recently, it's been applied to organizational leadership by several authors, most notably Bob Johansen, former CEO of the Institute of the Future.

Johansen's take on VUCA is that it will only get worse. But its presence creates both risk and opportunity, he says, and strong leaders are able to redefine the acronym by turning volatility into vision, uncertainty into understanding, complexity into clarity, and ambiguity into agility.

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