The acronym VUCA was used by the US Army War College at the end of the Cold War in 1990. VUCA stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. As I learnt about the VUCA model, comparisons to the Covid-19 pandemic resonated:
- Volatile. On 31 December 2019, Chinese officials confirmed dozens of cases of pneumonia from an unknown cause, and then a week later, on 7 January 2020, the outbreak was identified as a new coronavirus. Since then, thousands of people have been infected worldwide and Covid-19 continues to present health experts with a fast-moving situation.
- Uncertain. The next phases of the outbreak are uncertain. The void of information has led to global trauma, which is evidenced by panic buying.
- Complex. Because of the global spread, there are so many interconnected factors that it is difficult to fully analyse the widespread impact of the virus and its effect on various sections of society.
- Ambiguous. Covid-19 is exceptional and unprecedented. The last epidemic that came close to the scale of what we are experiencing was the SARS outbreak in 2003. It lasted for nine months and more than 8,000 people were infected. Covid-19 has already infected over 200 times that number and counting
A few years ago, Bob Johansen, a distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future, developed an effective leadership framework which he called VUCA PRIME. Johansen’s VUCA PRIME called for leaders to focus on building Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility as the pathway to coping and overcoming the daunting and somewhat paralyzing impact of a VUCA world.
I’d like to explore this here to help us as we steer our families through Lockdown.
- Volatility can be countered with Vision
Have you lost sight of your vision during Lockdown? I know I have, at times. It’s been easy to be all-consumed by the trials of each day to have any headspace left to focus on my vision. Having a vision provides a sense of purpose. Your vision will help you to define your short and long-term goals. It will help you to guide your intentions each day. It’s your most important dreams or mental pictures. If you have your vision written down – take it out and look at it. What steps can you start to take towards it? Does it need changing as a result of the pandemic? If you’ve not got a vision, I would encourage you to create one. There is lots of information online to help you to do this, or you could work with a coach to help you.
2. From vision comes the ability to transform Uncertainty to Understanding
Things have been changing rapidly during Lockdown. It’s easy to be bombarded with too much, often conflicting, information. It’s important to be informed, so that you can make clear decisions as a family. Are you shielding from certainly vulnerable people in your family? Who is it appropriate to meet up with? How well do the children understanding social distancing rules? Do you need to wear masks when you’re out and about?
3. Complexity can be countered with Clarity
A by-product of complexity is confusion. I don’t know about you, but I’ve frequently felt more exhausted than normal during Lockdown. It’s because my brain is constantly trying to make sense of everything. We need to focus on the ‘now’ and as a result of that, to be clear about ‘what’s next’. It may be that you have created new habits – healthy and un-healthy – during Lockdown and getting clarity on what you want to continue, or stop, is time well spent. What is sustainable and what will help you to build a better future for you and your family?
4. Ambiguity can be countered with Agility
We have all been functioning for several months with a high level of ambiguity and rapidly changing home and work environments. Information can be interpreted in different ways and being clear about what is moveable and what is immovable is important here. To counteract ambiguity, how do you remain adaptable and agile to accommodate change? Responding well to change is easier for some people than others. As we progress through Lockdown, routines can be helpful, but they also may now need adapting for the long-term. Being agile enables you to cope with change better. As Lockdown changes, be curious about the impact on you and your family. Consider, what can stay the same and what needs to change? When things are up in the air you may feel anxious. Ground yourself by practising self-care and taking time to process your thoughts.
So, it is possible to counteract the current VUCA world we find ourselves in and bring about some sense and stability towards a better future.
About Jackie Meek
Jackie lives in Oxfordshire and is an ICF accredited life coach with a passion to see frazzled mums move from surviving to thriving. Her coaching sessions are calm and inspiring, giving her mum clients the time to stop and think clearly about how they want to bring about change and to help them to find balance as they juggle family and work commitments. Jackie runs a group coaching programme called The Mum Boardroom and works with mums on a 1:1 basis, either face to face or online. You can connect with Jackie on Facebook or Linked In.