Author: Jayati Mukherjee, Manager – HR, Siemens

Introduction of ‘VUCA’: VUCA is an acronym used to describe or reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. The notion of VUCA was introduced by the U.S. Army War College to describe the more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous multilateral world which resulted from the end of the Cold War. The common usage of the term VUCA began in the 1990s and derives from military vocabulary. It has been subsequently used in emerging ideas in strategic leadership that apply in a wide range of organizations, including everything from for-profit corporations to education.

In today’s business world, numerous changes are happening continuously around us every-day and will continue to happen in future too.

A few of them are:

  1. Disruptive technologies redefining business models.
  2. Rapid technological advancement leading to shorter life-span of any tech-enabled product / service / process. Any version of technology gets obsolete in almost no time by a future version.
  3. Emphasis on automation replacing recurrent human-based routine job wherever possible.
  4. Flatter organisation structure, making less room for vertical career movement for employees and undoubtedly leading to fierce competition.
  5. Mergers & Acquisitions by market giants giving birth to excess workforce.
  6. Selling-off non-Core business units by reputed organisations creates the fear of insecurity in the mind of job seekers as well as existing employees.
  7. Lean Organisation Policy resulting to some unwelcoming experiences in terms of job transfer, lay-off, retrenchment, pink slip, etc.
  8. Increasing demand of the organisations for outsourcing and contractual manpower deployment to reduce the overhead cost.
  9. Ever changing geo-political landscape resulting in more complexity in business domains too.
  10. And, many more ….

All these changes together have made our world at work highly unstable with full of uncertainties and vastly complex. In short, we are now living, breathing and navigating through a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world.

With this background, it is time for us – the career aspirants to slow down, re-think and re-strategize our goal(s) and also the way forward.

It is quite evident that the change is persistent everywhere – in different shapes and sizes. By nature, we human beings are change-resistant. However, if we – the aspirant job seekers as well as the existing employees – want to sail through this seemingly not so smooth situation successfully and to arrive at our dream destination, we need to be friend with ‘The Change’.

Now the million-dollar question is how to do that? We can do that in two different ways :

a. A Reactive Approach – We can accept the change as and when it comes. We can adjust our actions as well as behaviour accordingly.

b. A Pro-active Approach – We can use our knowledge to anticipate the forthcoming change(s) and make ourselves ready for that. By this way we can make a shield around us with adequate shock-absorbers to sustain and succeed. The advantage of ‘Proactive Approach’ over a ‘Reactive Approach’ is we don’t get sudden unwelcoming surprises. Instead, we get mentally prepared for this and equip ourselves adequately well ahead of the actual crisis, thus being better able to deal with the shocks. Shocks will no longer remain as shocks if we can anticipate them beforehand, even if they are not in the same magnitude and scales as in actual. Wise men said, “Information is the key to Goldmine”! We all know that when we would like to make friendship with someone, we put in our efforts to know about that person to the greatest extent. Here also, it’s no different. Being aware of what is happening around in the world at work, getting regularly updated with the aid of experts’ views on the present as well as forthcoming trends and taking necessary measures make things simpler.

A few pointers, in this context, which would be of paramount help, are:

  1. Getting updated about the world at work – both in terms of national context as well as international context.
  2. Aligning the career with the present as well as the future market trend, in terms of demand and supply perspective.
  3. Instead of making only a single plan, a contingency plan (the Plan B) must be drawn out along with the principal plan.
  4. A career and financial fall back must be kept alive.
  5. Expanding the horizon by making continuous learning a habit and thus, building capability to deal with the change-scenario.
  6. Investing the effort and time judiciously to select the right learning portfolio, to get the optimum return.
  7. Being flexible and ready to leave the comfort zone.
  8. Challenging the status quo and taking calculated risks.
  9. Being creative enough to find out newer and innovative solutions to fight with the existing as well as upcoming complex challenges.
  10. Considering failure as a stepping stone for success and worth rewarding.
  11. Accepting failure as normal as success and learning the necessary lesson from it and to move on, instead of dwelling on it.
  12. Being resilient for the next fresh start.
  13. Being agile and decisive even in uncertain situations and that too by honouring the time pressure.
  14. Honouring as well as promoting open and transparent communication through apt collaboration.

With the advent of so many factors, it’s worth pondering about our approach towards change, as we cannot avoid it. It will come in our way for sure.

Author: Jayati Mukherjee, Manager – HR, Siemens