The nature of challenges and how to VUCA your way through

Lately I have come across the acronym VUCA quite a lot. Have you? It’s usually dropped in the context of management and leadership discussions and how qualities evolve in those areas. Basically VUCA is short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – all words that sound rather uncomfortable. Well, that’s basically the point.

Preparing your mind

The general point of VUCA is to emphasize the constantly changing conditions under which decisions need to be taken today and how to deal with this constant change. It seems to be nearly impossible to actually establish routines and standardized counter-measures for constant change but actually it’s quite doable with the right mindset behind it. And that’s what VUCA is meant to express. Mainly the parameters for VUCA are information and predictability.


Volatile situations seem to arise a lot in Life Sciences, since price erodation is a constant topic, fast market entries and new technologies frequently enter the game. In volatile situations you need to be able to have room in one or the other direction. This can be achieved with strategic partnerships for example, another topic very relevant to the Life Sciences sector.


Here leadership is required to gather enough information and provide flexible resources. They key is a clear vision and constant reference to that. Intuition and empathy are important aspects of leadership in times of uncertainty. And you need to have sustainable and flexible personnel. And uncertainty can only be conquered with information. Invest in that!


The complexity is not really that uncertain, moreover it’s clearly there. It just needs to be structured and processed in an effective way. This can often not be achieved completely as a whole but requires constant agile responses to appearing outcomes of the complex interconnections. A strong leader needs to provide the right dose of delegating responsibilities, acquiring the right specialists and allrounders reacting proactively to changes and results.


Who is responsible for what and why? Ambiguity is basically when you have little information about unpredictable situations. Sounds like you can only lose this one? Well, look at it this way: here you get room to experiment, test your way around and learn from the results. This is a lot about transparency and communication. So actually it can be quite fun. Multiple meanings, misunderstanding, conflicts of interest can also become multiple potentials, reinterpretation and Common interests.

You just need to VUCA to get there. ;)

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