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The VUCA Future - Vision. Understanding. Clarity. Agility.

Posted on 14/11/2023


Research has unveiled a shift in the interpretation of the term VUCA over the years, originally an acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. 

Savant Recruitment and Luminary Mindset, in their pursuit of promoting positive psychology and nurturing a culture of optimism and positivity, deliberately selected this subject for exploration at a luncheon in London this week, hosted by Savant Recruitment.

The discussion was led by Mark Sheldon, Founder / CEO of Savant Recruitment and Zoe Williams, Founder / CEO - Luminary Mindset. 


Why is the new VUCA (Vision. Understanding. Clarity. Agility) of interest to Savant? 

Mark Sheldon:  We are all seeing dramatic changes in macroeconomics, labour markets, laws, regulations, emerging technologies and our competitive marketplaces.These external factors have always affected businesses, especially their HR and recruitment strategy, but the change of pace is now so much faster. How can the pace be maintained?Where there is volatility, management needs to have a clear vision to keep up to date with transformation. Savant makes it a priority to understand their client’s vision and business needs to establish a bespoke recruitment solution and candidates to match.

Savant’s Vision ‘through deep market expertise and uncompromised commitment to service, Savant delivers real value and long term relationships to enable organisational growth, business advantage, talent progression and success. 

Our Understanding is through deep market expertise primarily in the Technology and Finance areas. 

The Clarity is gained from knowing our customers, their markets and the challenges they face when recruiting. 

Our Agility to work with speed to adapt to so much change going on in the world and business. 


Zoe presented the findings of a lively and wide-ranging discussion.


Where does the original term VUCA come from? 

VUCA emerged to characterise the complex global landscape following the Cold War. An acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, represents the challenging characteristics of a situation or condition that hinder analysis, response, and planning. It served as a reminder that the environment is chaotic and unpredictable. Initially viewed as a negative concept lacking solutions. 


What does the term VUCA represent now? 

The term has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. It has now evolved to represent Vision. Understanding. Clarity. Longevity. This shift in definition reflects a growing awareness of the need to provide individuals and organisations with effective solutions to navigate the challenging landscape of today's world.

Recognising and managing these qualities can enhance a leader's strategic capabilities and drive improved outcomes. As a result, the concept of VUCA has gained traction within strategic leadership in various organisations.


How can we positively navigate uncertainty?

Zoe emphasised the privileged perspective that Internal Audit possesses in understanding an organisation's inner workings and the value this perspective brings. She now aims to assist organisations in integrating emotional intelligence into their culture, helping individuals comprehend why they may respond negatively to uncertainty.

In her quest, Zoe raised a fundamental question: how many individuals believe they are predisposed to favour certainty over uncertainty? She highlighted that 86% of people lean toward seeking certainty in various aspects of life as the brain instinctively searches for signs of danger. Applying this concept to the work environment, it becomes clear that most employees possess a natural inclination for certainty. Organisations strive to predict the future, while individuals crave certainty and assurance. From an egocentric standpoint, Zoe acknowledged that when asked a question, people desire to provide a prompt and accurate response, as it enhances their credibility and trustworthiness. Paradoxically, this urgency to answer swiftly can inadvertently hinder performance if individuals feel immense pressure.

Through Zoe's extensive observation of organisational dynamics and how individuals navigate this complex environment, she has arrived at the conclusion that success largely depends on one's values, belief system, and ability to self-regulate. When individuals have a clear understanding of these factors, they are more likely to retain high talent. However, the internal conflict that arises when individuals enter or transition between new environments can often lead to feelings of displacement. Organisations must be mindful of this situation as it could result in a 20% loss of their workforce. Therefore, it is crucial to guide employees towards authenticity.

Zoe suggests that leaders should engage in conversations regarding beliefs and values at a deeper level—going beyond surface-level discussions on corporate values. It is essential to understand if employees truly grasp and embody these values, as they directly impact performance. Zoe referenced a research paper that highlights the benefits of antifragility, explaining that individuals can become stronger under stress. While stress can enhance performance, excessive or prolonged stress can lead to reduced cognitive abilities, such as short-term memory loss and impaired decision making.

It is vital to address these issues at an early stage to ensure optimal performance. Zoe emphasised the importance of cultivating an umbrella culture that fosters diversity and inclusivity. While everyone may have unique minds and personalities, it is crucial for all to align under a shared umbrella.

Zoe suggests initiating conversations around culture – specifically who the organisation needs to be to achieve success. This goes beyond focusing solely on actions and tasks but delves into the core essence of the organisation.

Mark added:  Highlighting that clinging to past successes while in denial of current changes is a common pitfall. He emphasised the necessity of being honest about what is happening within the company and promoting open communication within the organisational culture.

In conclusion, the panel and guests expressed their gratitude for the enriching and thought-provoking discussion.




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