What a Difference a Word Makes: Understanding Threats to Performance in a VUCA World

7 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2014  

Nathan Bennett

Georgia Institute of Technology - Organizational Behavior Area; J. Mack Robinson College of Business

James Lemoine

Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

VUCA is an acronym that has recently found its way into the business lexicon. The components it refers to — volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity — are words that have been variously used to describe an environment which defies confident diagnosis and befuddles executives. In a 'VUCA world,' both pundits and executives have said, core activities essential to driving organizational performance — like strategic planning — are viewed as mere exercises in futility. VUCA conditions render useless any efforts to understand the future and to plan responses. When leaders are left with little to do other than wring their hands, organizational performance quickly falls at risk. In this installment of Organizational Performance, we demonstrate that by overlooking important differences in the conditions that volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity describe, we have disempowered leaders. We show how leaders can appreciate the differences among each of these challenging situations in order to properly allocate scarce resources to preserve and enhance organizational performance.

Suggested Citation

Bennett, Nathan and Lemoine, James, What a Difference a Word Makes: Understanding Threats to Performance in a VUCA World (2014). Business Horizons, 2014, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2406676 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2406676

Nathan Bennett (Contact Author)

Georgia Institute of Technology - Organizational Behavior Area ( email )

800 West Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States

J. Mack Robinson College of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 4050
Atlanta, GA 30303-3083
United States

HOME PAGE: http://nate-bennett.com

James Lemoine

Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business ( email )

800 West Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States

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