VUCA and the Power of Emergence Teams
PM World Journal, Vol. V, Issue VIII – August 2016
13 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2017
Date Written: August 2016
In their 2014 report, Deloitte asserted that the global business landscape has fundamentally changed and that ‘business-as–usual’ and the previous ideas of what is Normal are a thing of the past. They imply that everyone is now working in the world of VUCA - an acronym for the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general business conditions and market situations; witness “Brexit” and the Trump phenomenon as current illustrations of VUCA. Nevertheless, according to McKinsey & Company (2014) this new emergent VUCA environment is “rich in possibilities for those who are prepared”, as well as pitfalls for the unprepared.
VUCA contexts mean more than complication of systemic or detailed workings. Complexity is imbued with the forces and outcomes of emergence across all business dimensions and levels, from strategic to operational. Emergence, according to Wikipedia (2015) is the process whereby a large system, entity, pattern, or regularity with singular properties evolves through interactions among smaller, simpler entities (that themselves do not exhibit such properties).
The core features of emergence are:
(1) Surprise or radical novelty (features not previously observed in systems);
(2) integration and coherence or correlation (integrated wholes that maintain themselves over some period of time);
(3) A holistic global or macro level (exhibiting some property of ‘wholeness’);
(4) it is the product of a dynamical process (it evolves); and
(5) it is ‘ostensive’ (it can be perceived) as can the dynamic complexity in the Brexit negotiations process in the UK.
Keywords: VUCA, Emergence Teams, complexity and enactment, radical novelty
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