Roland Dürre
Sunday April 14th, 2019

Does Anybody Still Believe in VUCA?

Whenever I attend events on #newwork or #agile, I hear people lamenting:

Our life becomes faster and faster. The high speed of change causes a high complexity that is overrunning us. Consequently, we have to become more agile in order to deal with it.

I reply that I have no intention of doing anything of the sort. Neither do I have to cope with complexity. Actually, I leave complexity well alone.

Protetion against vuca in Bonnaire in the Caribbean(Foto © Luc Bosma, Bonaire)

Then I hear the worried question:
And you, do you not fear VUCA?
Well, vuca really sounds worrying. A little like HORG (Hierarchical ORGanization).
Except that VUCA is also just one of the abbreviations that are so popular today. They have all become buzzwords.

In fact, in my book, a buzzword is an empty phase. Just like digitalization or sustainability.

Interestingly, the use of abbreviations was initiated by the NSDAP bureaucracy in the Third Reich and then used extensively. Subsequently, the abbreviations became export hits, following the motto: “Am Deutschen Wesen soll die Welt genesen“ (Let the world heal following Germany’s example).


According to Wikipedia, VUCA is an Acronym for the terms volatility (Volatilität / Unbeständigkeit), uncertainty (Unsicherheit), complexity (Komplexität) und ambiguity (Mehrdeutigkeit).

The VUCA prophets use the harmless four letters as memory rhyme for their horror message.

But then, has the world not always been vuca from the perspective of a single person?

In the stone age and in medieval times, it probably started with food for humans. Will there be anything to eat today?

From the perspective of organizations, the world also has always been vuca. Just remember the medieval towns where people tried to protect themselves against vuca by building expensive walls.

Or take my favourite example: the Weimar Republic lastet no more than nine years – and the thousand-year Reich changed everything in only twelve years (and destroyed a lot in the process). What a speed! True vuca! Even the GDR lasted 41 years (from 1949 until 1990). And the FRD (from 1949 and ongoing) already managed seventy years. Basically, so little vuca is hard to believe, isn’t it?

Consequently, I find the world has always been vuca. More in former times than today. Because the operating systems of our social systems have actually had a stabilizing effect. They are also more stable because of their digital corsets. How would you ever be able to change a huge enterprise that cemented its processes in Office365 and SAP?

As I see it, our world has probably become more stressful. Or at least it brought a new form of stress. Except that stress does not sound as nice as vuca. Let me recommend the Book
Phenomenon Stress:
Wo liegt sein Ursprung, warum ist er lebenswichtig, wodurch ist er entartet?
(Where does it originate, why is it essential, why did it get out of control?)
by Frederic Vester.

It contains more substance that is worth reading than the entire vuca literature. And if you buy it second-hand, you get it for less than one Euro.

And here are my 10 cents worth of advice on stress:

The change from a nature-oriented to a culture-oriented world brought us a new form of stress.

We created a world where we are permanently exposed to noise. The air is polluted because of exhausts. Our bodies, including the vegetative (nerve-) system is exposed to many idiotic burdens (such as having to control a car without ever finding a physical outlet …) and limitations (we spend the entire day sitting around somewhere…).

We can change this. We only have to want it!

Because the things that give us problems are exactly the things we do not need, anyway. We would have to work a lot less and could do a lot more for our own health if we were better organized and ready to do without a lot of nonsense.

Today, we mostly toil for nothing. That is where I think it is a good idea for us to make our world less complex – in the sense of avoiding rubbish. However, we should not lament the vuca-ization of our lives. Because that, too, creates stress. So:

🙂 VUCA –> FGI (forget it)

(Translated by EG)

2 Kommentare zu “Does Anybody Still Believe in VUCA?”

  1. Hans Bonfigt (Sunday April 14th, 2019)


    Natürlich haben Sie recht – die Welt war auch “früher” genau so komplex wie heute. Mit einem Unterschied:
    Wir haben früher versucht, Komplexität zu vermeiden. Heute gilt: Je komplexer und featurereicher, desto besser.
    Heute bin ich durch Grünwald gelaufen: Ein “SUV” neben dem anderen, alle strotzen vor Komplexität. Selbst die Bescheiß-Software bei Mercedes ist komplexer: Anstatt die Abgasreinigung direkt abzuschalten, wird die gemessene Kühlmitteltemperatur vermindert, sodaß “über Bande” abgeschaltet wird. Beheiztes Lenkrad. Massagethron. Das ist arm, arm und degeneriert. Diese Kisten müßten alle rosa angestrichen sein.

    Genau so aber geht es heute in der Softwareentwicklung. Früher kettenrauchende Männer, heute dauertwitternde, gickelnde, schon mit 30 zu fette Weiber.
    Und sie sind ganz geil auf Komplexität, je mehr Schnörkel, desto besser. Und dann beschweren sie sich darüber. Sehen Sie sich nur dieses Beispiel an:

    *WIR FRÜHER* hätten solche stinkenden Features überhaupt nicht genutzt, denn ein Webbrowser hält sich sinnvollerweise an allgemeine Standards. Und dann wundern sich die Kaffeetanten, daß sie schlechter bezahlt werden als Männer.

    Im übrigen hatten auch wir früher VUCA:

    Care for Clarity

  2. rd (Monday April 15th, 2019)

    Meine Gedanken im Artikel drehen sich nicht um IT oder Autos sondern um die Gesellschaft ich sag mal im Sinne von “Soziologie”.
    Ich meine, dass wir dank des Glauben an den technologischen Fortschritt und an die “Kirche der Vernunft” gemeint haben, dass wir Menschen das Leben “entVUCAisieren” könnten, und jetzt halt bemerken, dass das ganze nicht funktionieren kann und wird. Und irrtümlicherweise meinen, dass es plötzlich “vuca” geworden ist. Will sagen, dass uns mal wieder betrügen und jammern, wie schlimm alles geworden ist, obwohl es früher auch (nur anders) schlimm war :-).
    Und mein Eindruck ist, dass Unternehmen z.B. weniger Vuca geworden sind – auch wegen den “digitalen Zwangsjacken”. Das heißt auch, schwerer zu dynamisieren.

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